Health

Two More Flu-related Deaths Reported in San Diego County

Two additional flu deaths were reported in San Diego County last week, bringing this season’s total to 11, but overall flu activity was down from the previous week and last year at this time according to the County Health and Human Services Agency.

A 74-year-old man who was vaccinated died from complications from influenza B on Dec. 31, and a 64-year-old man died from complications from influenza A on Jan. 3. The 64-year-old was not vaccinated.

There have been 11 deaths reported this flu season compared to 91 at this point during the 2017-18 season.

Cases for the most recent week fell to 357, compared to 396 reported in the previous week. Overall, there have been 2,083 cases reported this flu season, down from 10,335 at this time last year.

“It’s not too late in the season to get your flu shot,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Flu activity can last until April or May and the flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others around you from influenza.”

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 Jan. 5, 2019, the Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 5 percent of all visits (compared to 6 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 357 (compared to 396 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 11 (compared to 91 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 2,083 (compared to 10,335 at this time last season)

How to Prevent the Flu

CDC 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 www.sdiz.org or call 2-1-1.

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