Number of flu deaths in California rises to 45

The number of confirmed influenza-related deaths in California rose to 45 for the season in the week ending January 11, the California Department of Health said on Friday.

Ron Chapman, the director of the CDPH and the state health officer, said the number of deaths rose from the total of 38 that was announced the previous week. The death toll from influenza includes two pediatric deaths.

"Flu activity continues to increase statewide, including reports of hospitalizations, severe disease and the number of deaths," Chapman said. "We are clearly in the midst of what appears to be an earlier peaking, severe flu season, and I encourage everyone who has not yet gotten a flu vaccination to do so. The influenza vaccine remains the most effective way to protect yourself from the flu."

The 45 influenza-related deaths were reported by multiple counties, including five in Sacramento County, four in Los Angeles County and four in San Bernardino County. There were three deaths reported in Alameda, San Diego, Orange, Santa Clara and Stanislaus counties, two reported in Contra Costa, Kings, Marin, Merced and San Mateo counties and one death each reported in Kern, Lassen, Mendocino, Riverside, San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Sonoma counties.

There are also 50 additional deaths being investigated by the CDPH.

The CDPH said there are still approximately 50,000 state-purchased doses of flu vaccine available to local health departments, in addition to more than 290,000 federally purchased doses of vaccine through the Vaccines for Children program. The department said there are also many more doses available on the private market.