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More local flu deaths

Total of eight have died from H1N1 virus in county

A total of eight people have died as a result of the H1N1 flu virus in Santa Clara County this flu season, according to a new report from the county's health department.

The latest two deaths in the county came in the last two weeks -- a 58-year-old woman and a 43-year-old man, according to Amy Cornell, the Public Health Department's public information officer, .

On top of the climbing death toll, Cornell also reported a total of 25 cases of severe flu -- adults under the age of 65 hospitalized due to the virus -- have been reported in the county this season.

That's double the number of deaths and severe cases Cornell reported earlier this month. As of Jan. 15, only four people under 65 had died in the county and only 13 had been hospitalized due to the flu.

"It's not to late to get a flu vaccination," she said in a press release reads. Cornell said that this year's vaccine offers protection against the H1N1 virus -- a particularly dangerous strain of influenza, which is known to impact younger, otherwise healthy individuals more severely than other flu bugs. "The Public Health Department urges residents to get a flu vaccination, if they haven't already."

In addition to getting vaccinated, the county health department recommends that people wash their hands regularly; try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth; stay home when sick and especially if there's a fever; and to cover coughs and sneezes with tissues, and immediately dispose of the tissues.

For more information on how to stay healthy and where to get flu shots, go to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department's website.

Cornell said her department wanted people to know that flu vaccination shots are readily available through the public health department at the Adult Immunization Clinic, located on the first floor of 967 Lenzen Ave. in San Jose. Vaccine is also available at multiple locations in Mountain View, including the free RotaCare Clinic on the El Camino Hospital campus, Palo Alto Medical Foundation's Mountain View Center, Kaiser, Safeway and various chain drug stores.

Although there have been reports of temporary shortages at various flu shot providers, overall there's a good supply of vaccine. Health officials all over the Bay Area are urging everyone 6 months and older to get vaccinated. The vaccine takes about two weeks after inoculation to be fully effective.

—Bay City News contributed to this report

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