Health

San Diego Experiencing Milder Flu Season

Compared to recent years, the number of influenza cases in San Diego is significantly lower this year; fewer people have shown up sick at local emergency departments and died because of the flu. 

These three factors indicate this flu season, so far, is milder than the past three years, which were the deadliest since the County Health and Human Services Agency began tracking the disease.

“During the previous three seasons, influenza activity in the region at this time of the year was moderately severe. This season, the vaccine is working and fewer people are getting sick,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “However, influenza is very unpredictable and people should still get vaccinated and take other preventive measures.”

For the week ending Jan. 23, 2016, the Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 5 percent of all visits (same as the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 180 (up from 147 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 4 (compared to 30 last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 728 (compared to 3,169 last season)

Your Best Shot Against the Flu

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

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 your symptoms are under control
  • Pregnant women
  • People 65 years and older
  • People who live with or care for others who are at higher risk

Other Tips to Stay Healthy

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 Community Health Center or County public health center to get vaccinated. For a list of locations, visit www.sdiz.org or call 2-1-1.

 

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