SANTA CRUZ -- Health officials on Thursday reported two new flu-related deaths in Santa Cruz County, bringing the total number of swine flu deaths to three within the county.
The deaths of two men, one in his 20s and one in his 50s, were both attributed to the H1N1 strain of the virus, said Laurie Lang, public information officer for Santa Cruz Health Services. While officials said both men had underlying medical conditions at the time of their death, they did not say whether or not they had been vaccinated.
Two additional deaths reported to the department are awaiting confirmation that they are flu-related, which would bring the county total to five. As of Feb 1., 147 flu deaths had been confirmed statewide.
The deaths marked the 36th and 37th fatal cases between the Bay Area and Santa Cruz counties. Santa Clara County has reported 10 flu-related deaths, Contra Costa County has reported five, and Alameda, Sonoma and San Mateo counties have each reported four. San Francisco County has reported three fatal cases, Marin County has reported two, and Napa and Solano counties have each reported one death.
Health officials reiterated that this year's flu vaccine provides protection from swine flu and that the vaccine is readily available among all Bay Area counties and Santa Cruz. All residents over 6 months of age are urged to get vaccinated, particularly pregnant women, elderly residents and patients with underlying heart and lung conditions.
In all, the nine Bay Area counties and Santa Cruz County have reported 37 flu-related deaths this season as of Feb. 6:
Alameda County: 4
Contra Costa County: 5
Marin County: 2
Napa County: 1
San Francisco County: 3
San Mateo County: 4
Santa Clara County: 10
* Santa Cruz County: 3
Solano County: 1
Sonoma County: 4
* Santa Cruz County isn't included in the official designation of nine Bay Area counties.