The unvaccinated man, who had existing medical conditions, tested positive for influenza A. He died on Oct. 1 after a brief hospitalization. Last season, the first flu death occurred Oct. 4, and 86 other San Diego County residents died from influenza, including two children.
“This death is an unfortunate reminder that influenza can be fatal,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “The seasonal influenza vaccine is widely available and we urge everyone six months of age and older to get it before flu activity increases.”
So far this season, 203 lab-confirmed influenza cases have been reported, compared to 60 at this same point last year.
The CDC recommends that everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine every year. The current flu vaccines offer protection against pandemic H1N1, as well as influenza A H3N2 and influenza B strains.
Vaccination is especially important for people who are at higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu, including people with certain medical conditions, pregnant women, and people 65 years and older.
“The best protection against the flu is to get vaccinated, and the time to do it is now,” Wooten said.
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 County is sponsoring a number of free flu shot clinics in October. The vaccine is also available throughout San Diego County at doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies. County public health centers have flu vaccine available for children and adults with no medical insurance. For a list of locations, visit sdiz.org or call 2-1-1.