Sixth Influenza Death Reported in San Diego County

Flu vaccine syringe
Flu vaccine syringe

A 59-year-old woman from East County is the sixth influenza death reported in the region this flu season, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

The woman died Nov. 23, 2019 from influenza B, and there was no indication in her medical record that she got the flu vaccine this season. She also had underlying medical conditions.

“Influenza deaths are very unfortunate, but they do occur,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “This death serves as a strong reminder of the importance of getting a flu shot.”

Dec. 1-7 is National Influenza Vaccination Week and local health officials continue to urge San Diegans to get vaccinated as the flu increases in activity and sickens people. Flu vaccination is especially important during the holiday season when people usually stay indoors and gather in large groups.

A total of 203 lab-confirmed flu cases were reported locally last week, almost double the total from the previous week when 116 cases were reported. To date, 930 flu cases have been reported this season, more than double the 455 cases that had been reported at the same time last year.

Furthermore, the percentage of people showing up at local emergency departments with influenza-like symptoms increased to 4 percent, compared to 3 percent the previous week.

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 Nov. 30, 2019, the Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 4 percent of all visits (compared to 3 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 203 (compared to 116 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 6 (compared to 2 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 930 (compared to 455 last season)

How to Prevent 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.

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 or call 211 San Diego.

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