San Diego Flu Cases Tick Upward Again

County Launches Flu Vaccination Campaign

After two weeks of declines, the number of local lab-confirmed flu cases went back up last week, a sign that influenza activity in the region is not finished for the season, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

A total of 708 flu cases were reported last week, compared to 542 the previous week. The percentage of visits to local emergency departments from people experiencing flu-like symptoms held steady at 3 percent, which is a significant decrease from a high of 13 percent reported in late December.

“Hopefully the increase in new cases this week was an abnormality in the decreases we’ve been seeing in the past couple of weeks,” said Wilma Wooten M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “But it’s a good reminder for people that flu season is not over and can last for a few more weeks, so people should continue taking preventive measures and get vaccinated.”

The number of flu deaths reported this season went up to 289, after seven more fatalities were reported last week.

The ages of the people who have died from flu this season range from 1 to 101. 35 (12 percent) of these deaths were of people under 65 years old, which are the only cases public health agencies are required to report in California. The County informs the public about all flu deaths.

A higher number of flu deaths is typically reported during a severe influenza season, which the county and the nation are experiencing. In San Diego County, the high number of flu deaths is also due to the County’s broad surveillance and use of reporting systems that provide fast and detailed results confirming cases.

For the week ending March 3, 2018, the County Health and Human Services Agency’ Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 3 percent of all visits (compared to 3 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 708 (compared to 542 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 289 (compared to 61 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 18,135 (compared to 4,473 last season)

It’s Not Too Late for a Flu Shot

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

CDC also recommends that people should prevent the spread of germs and take antivirals when prescribed by a doctor. Some local pharmacies may be out of specific medications, but there is no national shortage of antivirals. Sick people should call around if their local pharmacy is out and send a family member or friend to pick up the medications to avoid exposing others to the virus.

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 or call 2-1-1.

Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact