Health

San Diegans Urged to Get Vaccinated as Influenza Spreads

flu vaccination syringe

Influenza continued to sicken more San Diegans last week, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

For the week ending Dec. 11, a total of 154 lab-confirmed flu cases were reported in the region, a 36% increase compared to the prior week when 113 influenza infections were identified.

“Influenza activity in the region remains low, but we’re starting to see more cases locally,” said Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “An annual flu vaccine is the best way to prevent serious illness from influenza. The influenza vaccine is readily available throughout San Diego. Get vaccinated now before the flu spreads even more during the holidays and the winter months.”

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 Dec. 11, 2021, the report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 3% of all visits (compared with 4% the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 154 (compared to 113 the previous week)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 678 (compared to 40 at the same time last season and 667 prior 5-year average during the same week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 0 (compared to 0 at this time last season)

How to Prevent the Flu

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot every year. It takes about two weeks for immunity to develop. The CDC also indicates you can get a flu and COVID-19 vaccination at the same time, including a booster dose. The coronavirus vaccine does not work against influenza and vice versa.

The flu vaccine is especially important for people at higher risk of having serious complications from the virus.

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

The influenza vaccine is now available at doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies and is covered by medical insurance. People with no health care coverage can get vaccinated at one of the County’s six public health centers or a local community clinic. To find the nearest location, visit the County’s Flu Vaccine Locations page or call 2-1-1 San Diego.

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

In 2020, a total of 848 influenza cases were reported in San Diego, including two deaths. In 2019, a total of 108 San Diegans died from influenza and more than 20,700 flu cases were reported.

 

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