1 more flu-related death reported in Kern County

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Both the numbers of deaths and hospitalizations increased slightly this week from "influenza-like illness" in Kern County.

The Kern County Health Services Department releases updated figures each Tuesday. Reported deaths increased this week to 21, from 20 a week ago. Reported hospitalizations increased to 113 from 112.

Many of the flu deaths are from the H1N1 strain of the virus, with both young and elderly victims.

The health department is categorizing all of these reported deaths and hospitalizations under the banner "influenza-like illness," because they are suspected flu cases that have not all been confirmed.

The health department said people can still protect themselves by getting flu vaccinations. Officials also reminded people to cover their coughs, wash their hands and stay home if they are sick.

Flu shots are available at most local pharmacies on a walk-in basis. They are also offered for $9 at the health department, 1800 Mt. Vernon Ave. The clinic hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.