Bay Area residents brace for challenging flu season

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- With the flu season now upon us, health officials say the Bay Area is getting hit much harder than other parts of the state.

In Santa Clara County, two people under the age of 65 have died in recent weeks because of flu-related complications. That's equal to the total amount of deaths last season.

Fever, chills, just aching all over, just absolutely feeling horrible," says Linda Schlarb, San Jose resident.

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As people try to avoid getting sick, there are growing concerns over the effectiveness of this year's flu vaccine. The vaccine formulation is the same one that was used during Australia's most recent flu season -- a typical indication of what the U-S may face -- but experts say it was only 10% effective there.

Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County public health officer, is still encouraging people to get vaccinated.

"We do know that even if the flu vaccine doesn't prevent you from getting the flu, it still reduces the risk of flu hospitalization and death," said Cody.

Since the flu season began last month, dozens of people have been coming through St. James Health Center in downtown San Jose on a daily basis to get the vaccine, according to Dr. Benjamin Hernandez, who has worked there for nearly three decades.

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"The majority accept it," says Hernandez. "The majority of seniors especially are really requesting to have it done."

At the San Jose Unified School District, staff members are reminding students to wash their hands and cover their coughs.

"When you have a child that is sick, particularly with a fever, cough, sore throat, those children can be communicable, and these symptoms can really run through a classroom," says Melinda Landau, SJUSD Health and Family Support Programs Manager.

Residents are staying optimistic about getting through what's expected to be a rough flu season.

"I'm just going to eat good, take my vitamins, and hope I don't get it," says Sharon Robinson, Campbell resident.

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