Flu season still a concern on the Central Coast

CHOMP sees fewer patients in flu epidemic but numbers grow nationwide

MONTEREY, Calif. - One Central Coast hospital says it's seeing fewer flu patients this month. But experts warn flu season isn't over.

The CDC says hospitalizations and deaths nationwide are still on the rise.

Fifty-three children have already been killed by the virus this season and 48 states are reporting widespread activity. The CDC says flu cases haven't peaked yet.

Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula says the rush of patients it saw more than a month ago is dying down.

CHOMP says that flu cases they saw peaked in late December but the flu is still here and it's not too late to protect yourself.

"People always ask me 'How come you don't get sick?'" said Dr. Casey Grover, assistant medical director at CHOMP, "I wash my hands probably two hundred times a shift." 

Though you might not have to do it that many times a day, hand washing is just one way doctor Casey Grover says you can protect yourself from the flu.

The flu has already proven deadly here on the Central Coast, eleven people have died, six in Monterey County, three in Santa Cruz County and two in San Benito County.

"We peaked at CHOMP in late December with as many as 33 cases within a day and we're down to maybe the ten and slightly less range now."

That's just patients who were admitted to CHOMP, not those who came to their emergency room.

But until those numbers are down even more, and experts can call an end to this flu season, doctors strongly recommend getting that flu shot.

"There's actually two types of flu and sometimes you see people get both types in a single season," Grover said, "The vaccine protects you against both types now, it's not too late and even if you do get the flu, if you've had the vaccine it's much less severe."

Even if you've already been vaccinated or still refuse, it's always important to protect yourself and others.

"Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and keep your hands clean," said Dr. Grover.

As for when flu season ends, Dr. Grover says that's something that varies from year to year, but the most intense times are usually between the end of December and February.

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