Health

11 New Flu Deaths Reported

There is mixed news on the local flu front.

Eleven new influenza deaths were reported in the region during the week ending March 5, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

This flu season, 26 San Diegans have died from influenza, compared to 84 at the same time last year. The ages of those who have died this season ranged from 41 to 95, and four had no known underlying medical conditions.

On a positive note, the number of lab-confirmed flu cases dropped for the first time last week after several weeks of continued increases. A total of 864 cases were reported for the week ending March 5, compared to 967 cases reported the previous week. 

“Influenza continues to take lives, especially those who are at higher risk of developing complications from the illness,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Since influenza cases are reported through the spring, and even into the summer, people should still get vaccinated; it is not too late.”

For the week ending March 5, 2016 (Week 9), the Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 6 percent of all visits (same as the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 864 (down from 967 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 26 (compared to 84 last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 4,484 (compared to 6,238 last season)

Your Best Shot Against the Flu

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

This season’s flu vaccine offers protection against several strains of the flu including influenza A H3N2, pandemic H1N1-like, and influenza B strains.

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 your symptoms are under control
  • Pregnant women
  • People 65 years and older
  • People who live with or care for others who are at higher risk

Other Tips to Stay Healthy

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 Community Health Center or County public health center to get vaccinated. For a list of locations, visit sdiz.org or call 2-1-1.

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