Health

Two More San Diegans Die from Influenza

flu vaccine

Two additional influenza deaths were reported last week, bringing this season’s total to five, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

A 70-year-old woman died from influenza B in July 2019, although the death was just reported last week. A 78-year-old woman died from influenza A and influenza B Nov. 3, 2019. Both women were from North County, had no record of having received a flu shot and had underlying medical conditions.

“Influenza can be deadly, especially for elderly people, young children and people with compromised immune systems,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Our condolences and sympathy go out to the families of the two women.”

Next week is National Influenza Vaccination Week, and local health officials continue to urge San Diegans to get vaccinated as the flu continues to sicken people.

Last week, 122 lab-confirmed influenza cases were reported in the region, bringing this season’s total to 731. In comparison, 106 flu cases were reported locally during the same week last season, when a total 353 influenza cases had been reported.

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. 23, 2019, the Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 3 percent of all visits (compared to 3 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 122 (compared to 136 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 5 (compared to 2 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 731 (compared to 353 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 www.sdiz.org or call 211 San Diego.

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