Health

Local Flu Season Worsening

The flu season may have started off slowly this year, but the number of lab-confirmed influenza cases reported in the region increased again last week.

According to the latest report from the County Health and Human Services Agency, a total of 266 flu cases were reported the week ending Feb. 6, the largest number in a single week this season.

“Flu activity is increasing in San Diego and is widespread in the state,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “The good news is that the vaccine is very well matched with the strains of flu that are in the community, and it is never too late to get your flu shot.”

For the week ending Feb. 6, 2016 (Week 5), the Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 5 percent of all visits (up from 4 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 266 (up from 192 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 5 (compared to 57 last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 1,201 (compared to 4,842 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