Health

Public Health Officer: Now Is the Time to Flu Shot

patient getting flu shot
County Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten gets a flu shot every year.

Local influenza activity this season continues to outpace last year’s at this same time.

That’s why the County of San Diego public health officer is urging San Diegans to get vaccinated now to protect themselves and those around them.

“This is the time to get a flu shot. Remember that it takes about two weeks for immunity to develop,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “The vaccine is here and available at doctor’s offices, retail pharmacies, community clinics and public health centers.”

Last season, 77 people in the region died from complications from the flu and 9,655 lab-confirmed cases were reported. That was down from the previous season’s 343 deaths and 20,833 lab-confirmed cases. Last season, the first flu death occurred Oct. 15, 2018, while the first death the previous season occurred Oct. 1, 2017.

“Everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated, especially in high-risk groups,” Wooten added.

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. The report is released every Wednesday during the flu season.

For the week ending Oct. 5, 2019, the Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 2 percent of all visits (compared to 2 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 31 (compared to 36 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 2 (compared to 0 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 266 (compared to 75 last season)

Your Best Shot Against the Flu

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 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 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