3 More Flu Deaths Reported in San Diego

flu vaccine

Three additional flu deaths were reported in the San Diego region last week, bringing this season’s total to five, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

A 49-year-old man died from complications from influenza A (H1N1) on Dec. 4 and a 77-year-old woman died Dec. 1 from influenza B. A delayed report was also received on an 80-year-old woman who died from influenza B on Oct. 15. All the people who have died from influenza this year had underlying medical conditions and none were known to have gotten this season’s flu shot.

Four influenza deaths had been reported at this time last season.

“Influenza deaths are very unfortunate but serve as a reminder that the flu can be deadly, especially for at-risk populations,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Vaccination is the best protection against the flu. The vaccine is safe and effective and can help save lives.”

Last season, 342 San Diegans died from complications from the flu, the highest total since the County began tracking flu deaths nearly 20 years ago. The majority of those who died last season were over the age of 65, had underlying medical conditions and had not been vaccinated. Two children also died from influenza last year.

The County Health and Human Services Agency publishes the weekly Influenza Watch report, which tracks key flu indicators and summarizes influenza surveillance in the region. All other indicators are at expected levels for this time of year.

For the week ending Dec. 8, 2018, the Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 3 percent of all visits (unchanged from 3 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 199 (compared to 102 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 5 (compared to 4 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 650 (compared to 1,083 at this time 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. 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, community clinics, 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