Health

More Flu Deaths This Season Than Last, Cases Drop in San Diego

flu vaccine
A flu shot is recommended for everyone 6 months and older.

More San Diegans have died from influenza this season than in all of last season, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

Six more flu deaths were reported last week, bringing this season’s total to 80. In comparison, 77 San Diegans died from influenza last season. All but three of the people who have died from influenza this season had underlying medical conditions.

“It’s very unfortunate but influenza deaths do occur every flu season,” said Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “It’s important for people to get vaccinated since the flu season is not over yet.”

The number of lab-confirmed cases decreased again last week, when 784 cases were reported. That’s 431 fewer flu cases compared to the previous week when 1,215 cases were reported. To date, a total of 18,696 cases have been reported.

The County Health and Human Services Agency publishes the Influenza Watch weekly report, which tracks key flu indicators and summarizes influenza surveillance in the region.

For the week ending Feb. 29, 2020, the report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 5% of all visits (compared to 6% the previous week).
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 80 (compared to 44 at this time last season).
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 18,696 (compared to 6,103 last season).

How to Prevent the Flu

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

Flu 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 aged 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 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 211 San Diego.

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