Health

San Diego Woman Dies from Influenza

An 86-year-old woman from San Diego is the latest flu death reported in the region, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

The woman died Dec. 1 from influenza A, had been vaccinated this season, and had underlying medical conditions. To date, seven San Diegans have died from complications from the flu, compared to five at the same time last season.

“Influenza can be deadly, especially for people with underlying medical conditions and compromised immune systems,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Vaccination is the best protection against influenza. The vaccine is safe and effective.”

County health officials continue to urge people to get vaccinated as the flu continues to increase in activity and sicken people. Flu vaccination is especially important around the holidays when the number of flu cases tends to increase and get-togethers add opportunities to spread germs.

Last week, 294 lab-confirmed flu cases were reported in the region, compared to 202 the previous week. To date, 1,223 flu cases have been reported locally this year, compared to 650 at the same time last season.

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. The report is released every Wednesday during the flu season.

For the week ending Dec. 7, 2019, the Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 4 percent of all visits (compared to 4 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 294 (compared to 202 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 7 (compared to 5 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 1,223 (compared to 650 last season)

Who Should Get a Flu Shot

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.

Flu 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 sdiz.org or call 211 San Diego.

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