Health

Flu Activity in San Diego Still Elevated, Mask Requirement Extended

Flu vaccine syringe
Flu vaccine syringe

The number of lab-confirmed flu cases went down again last week, and three additional influenza deaths were reported, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

A total of 508 influenza cases were reported last week, compared to the 574 the week before.

Also, three more San Diegans died from complications from the flu, bringing this season’s total to 49. In comparison, a total of 307 San Diegans had died at the same time last year.

The three people who died were an 84-year-old man from San Diego, a 62-year-old woman from San Diego and a 50-year-old woman from East County. All three had underlying medical conditions.

“Influenza activity in the region is still elevated. People should continue taking precautions to avoid getting sick,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “The flu vaccine is safe and effective.”

The number of people with influenza-like symptoms who showed up at local emergency departments went up one percentage point last week, reaching 6 percent again.

Due to continued elevated influenza activity in the county, Wooten is extending—until April 30—the order for unvaccinated health care personnel to wear a mask while they’re in patient care areas. If influenza activity remains elevated, a further extension may be required.

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.

For the week ending March 16, 2019, the Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 6 percent of all visits (compared to 5 percent as the previous week).
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 508 (compared to 574 the previous week).
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 49 (compared to 307 at this time last season).
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 7,184 (compared to 19,442 at this time 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 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; and
  • 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; and
  • 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 www.sdiz.org or call 2-1-1.

 

 

 

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