Four more swine flu deaths were reported in the Bay Area Monday, two in the South Bay, one on the Peninsula and one in the North Bay, renewing calls from state health officials urging people to get vaccinated as the flu season's peak approaches.
The recent deaths in Santa Clara, San Mateo and Sonoma counties come as pharmacies and Bay Area hospitals were receiving additional doses of flu vaccine to keep up with high demand that caused shortages in some locations last week. Officials in multiple counties, however, have said there is enough supply to go around.
"Our message is the same," said Sherri Willis, a spokeswoman for the Alameda County Public Health Department. "There's still plenty of time, and in most communities, there's plenty of vaccine. It takes two weeks to gain full immunity from the vaccine. As soon as you can get a shot, the better."
Santa Clara County officials confirmed two more deaths on Monday, a 61-year-old and a 62-year-old, bringing the county's total number of H1N1-related fatalities to four, the highest for any Bay Area county. San Mateo County also reported its second death on Monday. In addition, ABC7 reported just after 6 p.m. Monday that Sonoma County officials confirmed that a 54-year-old with underlying conditions had died from the flu.
In all, the nine Bay Area counties and Santa Cruz County have reported 16 flu-related deaths. Alameda County reported three deaths, Marin County reported two, and San Francisco and Contra Costa counties have each reported one death. There have been no deaths reported in Solano and Napa counties, officials said.
Santa Cruz county officials initially reported two deaths last week, but on Monday said only one, the death of a 50-year-old man, had been confirmed as being caused by swine flu. Two others in the county are so far only suspected to be flu-related deaths.
Because the state requires reporting of influenza deaths only in people younger than 65, the number of flu-related deaths could actually be higher. That age requirement began after the swine flu pandemic of 2009-10, when 203,000 people died worldwide, including more than 600 Californians.
As of Jan. 4, only seven deaths were confirmed by the state, while an additional 28 are being investigated. The seven confirmed fatalities up until then, the last time the state released numbers, were in Alameda, Contra Costa, Lassen, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco and Stanislaus counties, according to the California Department of Public Health.
H1N1 appears to be the predominant strain this flu season, causing concern because unlike other strains it can result in deadly pneumonia even in young, healthy people. Sonoma County officials said a 23-year-old man who had no underlying health problems died of the H1N1 virus, and a 54-year-old with underlying conditions had also died.
After reporting a temporary shortage of adult flu vaccines at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center Oakland, hospital officials on Monday said Kaiser received 20,000 additional doses from suppliers and expected to receive more than 40,000 additional doses this week. Since flu clinics opened in September, Kaiser has administered more than 1.2 million doses of flu vaccine throughout its hospitals in Northern California, according to a hospital statement.
A corporate spokesman for both CVS and Walgreens has said that some stores had run out of the vaccine and encouraged people to call in advance to check on availability.
Most of Marin County's pharmacies on Monday reported that they were temporarily out of the vaccine following several days of heavy demand.
"What we're seeing is that they're having trouble keeping up with the demand," said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County's public health officer. "There was a lot of interest in the vaccine over the last few days."
Bay Area News Group staff writers Rick Hurd and Tracy Seipel, Marin Independent-Journal writer Richard Halstead, and ABC7 contributed to this report. Contact David DeBolt in Richmond at 510-262-2728. Follow him at Twitter.com/daviddebolt.
In all, the nine Bay Area counties and Santa Cruz County have reported 16 flu-related deaths this season as of Jan. 13, 2014:
Alameda County: 3
Contra Costa County: 1
Marin County: 2
Napa County: none
San Francisco County: 1
San Mateo County: 2
Santa Clara County: 4
* Santa Cruz County: 1
Solano County: none
Sonoma County: 2
* Santa Cruz County isn't included in the official designation of nine Bay Area counties.