Vaccination: San Diegans’ Best Shot Against the Flu

With the influenza season right around the corner, the County Health and Human Services Agency continues to urge San Diegans to get vaccinated now.

The flu season typically starts in late October and could last until April or May of the following year.

“Influenza is very unpredictable, and we never know how severe a flu season is going to be,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “People should get vaccinated now because influenza can be deadly, especially for very young children, the elderly and people with existing medical conditions.”

Last season, 342 people in the region died from complications from the flu, 255 more than the previous season and the highest total since the County began tracking flu deaths nearly 20 years ago. The majority of the people who died were over the age of 65 and had underlying medical conditions. Two children also died of flu last year.

One of the reasons for the high number of deaths was that the region and the country experienced a severe flu season. However, the high number of deaths identified locally was also due to the County’s broad surveillance and use of detailed reporting systems.

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.

For the week ending Oct. 20, 2018, the Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 2 percent of all visits (compared to 2 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 22 (compared to 13 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 0 (compared to 1 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 105 (compared to 287 last season)

Your Best Shot Against the Flu

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated. It takes about 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 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