SAN JOSE — A 98-year-old woman with chronic health conditions is the first known person to die from the flu in Santa Clara County this season.

The unidentified woman passed away earlier this month, said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, county health officer.

Another Santa Clara County resident under age 65 was treated in a hospital intensive care unit and survived.

Flu statistics are difficult to compile because health officials are not required to report deaths of people age 65 and older.

But as of January last year, no deaths of people in that age category had been reported to the county, and one person had been hospitalized in intensive care with a severe case of the flu.

Because the flu season often does not peak in California until February or March, Fenstersheib said it is not too late to get a flu shot, but people should not delay and should call around if they have difficulty locating the vaccine because heavy demand has caused some pharmacies and other providers to run out.

Statewide, four people under age 65 have died this season.

Kaiser Permanente has had spot shortages at some of its locations but had a shipment of vaccine arrive this week and has ordered more. Members can call its flu hotline at 1-800-KPFLU11 for more information.

Santa Clara County plans to hold additional flu clinics but has not yet finalized the details. People are advised to call their health care provider or get information at www.findaflushot.com.

As it has done in previous years, the Diocese of San Jose has made temporary changes to limit the flu’s spread. Bishop Patrick McGrath has directed that only communal bread be used during communion and not wine sipped from a common cup. Communion will be placed in people’s hands rather than on their tongues, and people will not hold hands during the singing of the Lord’s prayer.

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