San Diego Flu Deaths Double, Cases Down

Another 46 local flu deaths were reported last week, bringing this season’s total to 91, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

The new deaths were announced during a presentation by County health officials to the Board of Supervisors, who had asked during last week’s meeting if a flu emergency needed to be declared.

Health officials said the number of lab-confirmed flu cases dropped last week, according to the County Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch report, which is issued every week. A total of 2,992 flu cases were reported last week, compared to 3,354 the previous week.

“Declaring a local health emergency is a public health tool that we believe should be used judiciously when local resources are exhausted,” said Nick Yphantides, M.D., M.P.H., County chief medical officer. “It is very important to note that the CDC and the state have not declared an emergency, at present, as resources have not been exhausted.”

The Board accepted the report but did not pursue any emergency action. (Watch video of presentation at meeting.)

Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., told the Board that people should continue to get vaccinated.

“The flu vaccine is the best public health tool we have, and an annual flu shot is recommended to everyone over 6 months,” Wooten said. “The vaccine helps your body develop protection in two weeks and can lessen severity if one gets the flu. The vaccine is matched with all four circulating strains.”

For the week ending Jan. 6, 2018, the Health and Human Services Agency is reporting the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 11 percent of all visits (compared to 13 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 2,992 (compared to 3,354 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 91 (compared to 8 last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 10,324 (compared to 1,352 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.

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.


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