Health

4 More Flu Deaths Reported in San Diego

vaccinationclear Image Credit: PhotoSpin

Four additional influenza deaths were reported in San Diego, bringing this season’s local total to nine, the County Health and Human Services Agency reported today.

The ages of the people who died ranged from 60 to 96, and all had underlying medical conditions.

Furthermore, the number of lab-confirmed influenza cases went up by 56 percent (from 292 to 455) last week, a sign that the flu is rapidly spreading in the region.

“These new deaths are an important reminder that influenza can be deadly,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “The best protection against the flu is getting vaccinated.”

For the week ending Jan. 7, 2017, the Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 4 percent of all visits (compared to 4 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 455 (up from 292 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 9 (compared to 3 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 1,327 (compared to 447 at this time last season)

How to Prevent the Flu

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot every year. The vaccine is safe and effective. It takes two weeks for immunity to develop.

Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk of developing serious complications from influenza. They include:

  • People with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and lung disease, even if symptoms are under control
  • Pregnant women
  • People 65 years and older
  • People who live with or care for others who are at higher risk

In addition to getting vaccinated, people should also do the following to avoid getting sick:

  • Wash hands thoroughly and often
  • Use hand sanitizers
  • Stay away from sick people
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Clean commonly touched surfaces
  • If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others

The flu vaccine is available at doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies. If you don’t have medical insurance, you can go to a County public health center to get vaccinated. For a list of locations, visit www.sdiz.org or call 2-1-1.

José A. Álvarez is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact