County of Marin - News Releases - Flu Immunizations

For Immediate Release
December 17, 2019

Flu Spreads in California

It is not too late to get the flu vaccine

San Rafael, CA – Marin County Public Health has confirmed that the death of a resident hospitalized in the last week of November was the first influenza-related death in the county this flu season. There has been an additional death in the first week of December.

A close-up of a nurse's hands preparing a needle for an immunization shot.The holiday season can add risks for influenza.
“This is an important reminder to get vaccinated if you haven’t yet,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Public Health Officer. “Flu can be a very serious, especially for our older residents, and the vaccine is our best defense.”

Adding to the concerns of health officials, flu season has hit early this season. Influenzas rates across the county, which are measured by the County Department of Health and Human Services, have increased significantly through early December. In California, at least 24 people have died, including three children. 

The holidays can add risk for influenza infection. Travel, combined with more social and family gatherings, can lead to increased opportunities to spread illness. “The vaccine is a great way to make sure we’re not sharing the flu when we get together,” Willis said.

Early testing of circulating influenza strains has shown that this season’s vaccine is protective against the most common types of flu.

In September, the President signed an executive order to modernize the flu vaccine process nationwide. The vaccine takes months to develop and is manufactured in advance of the flu season. The improved process will allow the vaccine to be developed more quickly so it can be a better match for the current season.

Symptoms of the flu include fever that last 3-4 days, severe muscle or body aches, chills, severe chest discomfort and cough, headaches and fatigue. Today, along with Marin County’s Emergency Medical Services Agency, Public Health recommended that residents who are not seriously ill stay home, drink fluids, and take medicine for fever. People should monitor their own symptoms and contact their medical provider if they are getting worse.

“Beyond the flu vaccine, handwashing and staying away from school and work when ill are effective ways to help stop the spread of both colds and the flu,” said Dr. Lisa Santora, Deputy Public Health Officer. “The same principles they use in a hospital you can use at home by keeping the sick person away from others and disinfecting surface areas of shared household use such as kitchens, bathrooms, and doorknobs.”

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recommends that all patients with suspected or confirmed influenza who are hospitalized, severely ill, or, at higher risk for complications should treated with flu antiviral medication. 

Health officials recommend that people take the following additional steps to protect themselves and loved ones from the flu:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your elbow when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, since hands may become contaminated with live influenza virus.
  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after you sneeze or cough.
  • If you are sick, stay home from work or school until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours. Going to work or school while ill may pass the disease onto someone who is at risk for serious complications.

For more information about influenza visit or the CDPH influenza web page. To find a flu vaccine at a location near you, visit or the Vaccine Finder.


Dr. Matthew Willis
Public Health Officer
Health and Human Services

3240 Kerner Blvd.
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 473-4163
Email: Dr. Matthew Willis
Marin HHS website