A total of 49 local influenza deaths have been reported this season compared to 17 at this time last year. To date, the people who died ranged in age from 31 to 98 years old. All except three had underlying medical conditions.
“Influenza continues to sicken people in San Diego County and unfortunately, in some cases, the disease can be deadly,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., county public health officer. “People should continue to get vaccinated as the flu season can last through March and April.”
For the week ending Feb. 18, the Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch report shows the following:
Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 5 percent of all visits (down from 6 percent the previous week);
Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 418 (down from 594 the previous week);
Total influenza deaths to date: 49 (compared to 17 at this time last season);
Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 3,786 (compared to 2,840 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;
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 2-1-1.