5 More Flu Deaths Reported in San Diego

flu vaccine

A 38-year-old man is one of five flu deaths reported last week, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

The North County man died on Jan. 8 from Influenza A Pandemic H1N1 and had underlying medical conditions. His vaccination status is unknown.

Typically, the Pandemic H1N1 virus sickens younger people more than others because younger and middle-aged adults have not been exposed to the H1N1 virus as much as older adults, and these groups typically have the lowest vaccination rates in the nation.

The four other people who died from influenza last week also had existing chronic illness and only one had been vaccinated. The new deaths bring this year’s total to 16. In comparison, 142 flu deaths had been reported at the same time last year.

“Influenza deaths are very unfortunate but serve as a reminder that the flu can be deadly, especially for the very young, the elderly and those with existing chronic conditions,” said Sayone Thihalolipavan, M.D., M.P.H., County deputy public health officer. “The best way to prevent getting influenza is getting vaccinated.”

The County Health and Human Services Agency publishes the weekly Influenza Watch report, which tracks key flu indicators and summarizes influenza surveillance in the region. All other indicators are at expected levels for this time of year.

For the week ending Jan. 12, 2019, the Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 5 percent of all visits (compared to 5 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 493 (compared to 404 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 16 (compared to 142 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 2,623 (compared to 12,484 at this time last season)

How to Prevent the Flu

CDC 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, community clinics, 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 or call 2-1-1.



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