As the COVID-19 pandemic continues into the fall, officials with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department are urging residents to get a flu vaccine to avoid a "twin pandemic" in which hospitals are overwhelmed by patients with both illnesses.
"A bad flu season combined with COVID-19 can put our front-line workers and our community at a higher risk for illness," said Paige Batson, county Public Health Department deputy director.
Because flu and COVID-19 symptoms can be very similar, those experiencing these symptoms may need to be tested for both illnesses, using medical supplies that could be used for other patients, Batson added.
During the 2019-20 flu season, over 700 individuals in California died as a result of the flu, and nine died in Santa Barbara County, according to Batson.
In order to facilitate the vaccination process, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department will offer drive-through flu vaccine clinics next month.
A Santa Maria pop-up clinic will be available at Hancock College from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 13 and 15.
Another clinic will be offered at San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara from 2 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 8 and 9.
The department is also creating plans for a vaccine clinic in Lompoc, with more information to come, officials said.
Residents also can visit https://vaccinefinder.org/ to find nearby locations offering flu vaccinations.
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department confirmed 19 additional COVID-19 cases on Thursday for a total of 8,803 cases thus far, with 172 still active.
The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 in the county dropped slightly from Wednesday, with 28 individuals currently hospitalized, including seven in the ICU, according to county data.
In the city of Santa Maria, 46 out of 3,778 total cases remain active. A total of 59 individuals have died.
The community of Orcutt has nine active cases out of 305 total cases. Three individuals have died.
In the city of Lompoc, 22 out of 785 total cases remain active. Eight deaths have been confirmed.
The Santa Ynez Valley currently has eight active cases out of 142 total cases. Five individuals have died.
At the U.S. Penitentiary in Lompoc, one case remains active among inmates, according to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). There are currently no active cases at the Federal Correctional Institute, which is located at the same complex.
Four inmate deaths as a result of COVID-19 have been confirmed between the two facilities by the BOP. However, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has only confirmed three based on information from death certificates.
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