Health

San Diego Could See Severe Flu Season

Flu vaccine syringe
Flu vaccine syringe

The number of influenza cases being reported this season continues to outpace the average identified at the same time the past five years, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

For the week ending Oct. 30, a total of 28 influenza cases were reported in San Diego compared to the previous five-year average of 19 during the same week. To date, 257 flu cases have been reported in the region, compared to an annual average of 182 over the past five years.

“This increase of cases comes at a time when people are interacting and gathering indoors more than last year, and fewer San Diegans have gotten the flu vaccine compared to last season,” said Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “The best way to lower your risk of getting influenza is to get vaccinated.”

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 Oct. 30, 2021, the report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 3% of all visits (compared to 3% the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 0 (there were no deaths at this time last season)
  • Total people who have been vaccinated to date: 690,617 (compared to 770,054 at the same time last season)

Preventing 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. The CDC also indicates you can get a flu and COVID-19 vaccination at the same time.

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