The ages of San Diegans who died from influenza this season range from 1 to 101, and almost all had underlying medical conditions. Forty-four (13 percent) of the deaths were of people under 65 years old, which are the only cases public health agencies are required to report in California.
The County informs the public about all flu deaths. The high number of deaths is the result of an unusually severe flu season, but also due to better reporting and tracking by the local medical community and the County.
Also, a total of 101 lab-confirmed flu cases were reported last week compared to 175 the prior week, a sign that influenza activity in the region continues to slow down. Emergency department visits of patients with flu-like symptoms dropped to 1 percent from 2 percent the previous week.
“It appears that we’re at the end of this flu season,” said Wilma Wooten M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “However, people should continue to take precautions to avoid contracting the virus.”
For the week ending April 21, the County Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch report shows the following:
Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 1 percent of all visits (compared to 2 percent the previous week);
Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 101 (compared to 175 the previous week);
Total influenza deaths to date: 341 (compared to 86 at this time last season);
Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 20,661 (compared to 5,428 last season).
Your best shot against the flu
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated. 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 San Diego.