Health

San Diegans: Now is the Time to Get a Flu Shot

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

Influenza cases are reported year-round. But the typical flu season starts at the end of October and could last until April or May of the following year.

Have you gotten your flu shot yet?

The County Health and Human Services Agency is urging San Diegans to get their flu shot now to prevent getting the virus and making others sick. It takes about two weeks for immunity to develop.

“People should get vaccinated before the worst of the flu season gets here,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “The vaccine is safe and effective and is available across the region.”

Last season, 342 people in the region died from complications from the flu, 255 more than the previous season and the highest total since the County began tracking flu deaths nearly 20 years ago. The majority of the people who died were over the age of 65 and had underlying medical conditions. Two children also died of flu last year.

One of the reasons for the high number of deaths was that the region and the country experienced a severe flu season. However, the high number of deaths identified locally was also due to the County’s broad surveillance and use of detailed reporting systems.

The County Health and Human Services Agency today published this season’s first Influenza Watch 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. 13, 2018, 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: 13 (compared to 8 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 0 (compared to 1 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 83 (compared to 259 last season)

Your Best Shot Against the Flu

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated.

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