A 73-year-old woman died of complications due to influenza and is the first local, flu-related death reported this season, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.
The unvaccinated woman, who had existing medical conditions, tested positive for influenza A and died on Oct. 4 after a brief hospitalization. Last season, the first flu death occurred Oct. 28 and 67 other San Diego County residents died from influenza, including two children.
“This is one of the earliest deaths from seasonal influenza ever reported in the county,” said Sayone Thihalolipavan, M.D., M.P.H., County deputy public health officer. “The seasonal influenza vaccine is widely available and we urge everyone six months of age and older to get it before flu activity increases.”
Sixty lab-confirmed influenza cases have been reported so far this season compared to 68 at this point last year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported influenza activity is low across the United States, although localized influenza outbreaks have been reported.
The current flu vaccines offer protection against pandemic H1N1, as well as influenza A H3N2 and influenza B strains.
The CDC recommends that everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine every year. The vaccine is especially important for people who are at higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu, including people with certain medical conditions, pregnant women, and people 65 years and older.
“The best protection against the flu is to get vaccinated, and the time to do it is now,” Thihalolipavan said.
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 County is sponsoring a number of free flu shot clinics in October. The vaccine is also available throughout San Diego County at doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies. County public health centers have flu vaccine available for children and adults with no medical insurance. For a list of locations, visit sdiz.org or call 2-1-1