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Flu cases spike in the SCV

Local health professionals say the increase is not unusual for this time of year

Posted: January 30, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 30, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Pharmacist Charles Koopman holds a vial of influenza vaccine at Saugus Drugs on Wednesday. Signal photo by Charlie Kaijo.

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It’s flu season once again and Santa Clarita Valley health care professionals say they have been kept busy with a spike in the number of cases this month.

Dr. Paulo Hernandez, general physician from Doctor’s Express, reported seeing 24 cases in January after seeing only three or four cases each month since the flu season began in September.

Hernandez said the spike in cases is not unusual for this time of the year.

“This year is worse than last year in terms of severity (of symptoms),” he said. “The rate of patients coming in for flu symptoms has remained about the same. It all just came at once in mid December.”

Sylvia West, a Facey Clinic representative, also said it’s typical that January sees a spike in influenza cases with the season starting in September when the company receives their vaccines.

Anticipating the spike in cases for January, the company gave out 7,000 more influenza vaccines than the previous year after seeing an increase in cases.

The California Influenza Surveillance Program, a collaborative effort between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the California Department of Public Health and other health agencies reported more than 4,500 cases of the flu statewide from Oct. 13 to Jan. 18.

They found the majority of cases cropping up in the middle of December and rising steadily through January, statewide.

“It seems it’s pretty steady compared to last year,” said Charles Koopman, a Saugus Drugs pharmacist. “Last year we had 165 people come in for Tamiflu (a flu medicine). This year we had 75 people come in.”

Koopman typically begins to see the flu season begin in October through November, running until March. So far, he said about 200 people have come in to receive flu shots.

“Before we were giving more shots, and now we’re giving more Tamiflu than shots,” he said. “A lot of those are people who didn’t get their flu shots.”

A number of factors guide the spike of people seeking the flu vaccine. Koopman typically administers around two vaccinations per day but has had days where he has given up to 12 vaccinations in a day. He said news reports about the flu are often a motivating factor for people to get the flu shot.

“When swine flu came out last year, I was giving the vaccine up to March and April,” he said.


Jackk: Posted: January 30, 2014 5:24 a.m.

I got the flu shot and while I still got sick, the severity was very mild and short compared to those who didn't.

src: Posted: January 30, 2014 8:38 a.m.

Never had a flu shot, never had the flu. Junk science. Even after being exposed to h1n1, it still couldn't penetrate my superior immune system. Can't even remember the last time I had a real cold. I'm going to donate my blood to science so they can make a vaccine that works.

NotSoAwesomeTown: Posted: January 30, 2014 9:15 a.m.

Normally I'd agree with you, src, but I'll tell you - my healthy teenaged son, who we thought was bulletproof when it came to this stuff - got H1N1 the last time it came around a couple of years ago. It LEVELED him. I've never seen anyone that sick from the flu before. It was downright frightening. Thank god for Tamiflu. I truly feel it may have saved his life. I don't know how much worse it would have gotten if not for that drug.

walkinonsunshine: Posted: January 30, 2014 9:16 a.m.

Our teenage daughter was given a flu shot a few yrs ago during a dr.'s visit even though I told her pediatrician that "we don't do flu shots." Our daughter, who is rarely ever sick, threw up several times that night and missed school the next day. She felt lousy. Ridiculous!! We were told by friends that this reaction happens frequently. We'll take our chances with the flu. What's the difference. And by the way, Drs- we pay the bill. Mother knows best. Listen to your patients!!

stray: Posted: January 30, 2014 9:57 a.m.

My family (parents) never got flu shots, and never got sick. I personally never get the shots; and thank God, I never get the flu. Nobody in my extended family gets the shots either.

I know people who have received the shots and then get extremely sick with the flu. I guess it's all about what kind of genes you have!

Checksum: Posted: January 30, 2014 4:20 p.m.

I think people who ignore widely accepted medical knowledge for friends' anecdotal advice deserve the flu.

chefgirl358: Posted: January 31, 2014 12:05 a.m.

If you are an overall healthy person, you'll do much better to build up natural immunities to the flu, even if you do catch it, you'll fight it off quickly enough if you're in good health otherwise and then you'll be immune to that strain. The flu shots are probably a great thing for elderly or medically frail people, but I absolutely don't get them. I got one once, years ago, and was immediately sick, not very sick, but sick enough to know that dang shot was never going to happen again.

On the flip side, when I had a family member in the hospital with cancer 4 years ago we had to put a sign on the door because anyone who had been given an H1N1 live vaccine was a carrier and could essentially kill him with it if he caught it. People who have received those vaccines can be exceptionally hazardous to medically frail people.

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