Photo: the flu season is upon us; it’s not too late to vaccinate
April 12, 2019 (San Diego) - An additional four flu deaths were reported in the region last week; this at the same time the number of influenza cases went down significantly, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.
The ages of the four people who died ranged from 69 to 90 years of age and all had underlying medical conditions. The new deaths bring this season’s total to 59. In comparison, 333 flu fatalities had been reported at the same time last year.
The number of lab-confirmed cases dropped to 313 cases last week, from 556 cases the week before. To date, a total of 8,764 flu cases have been reported this season, compared to the 20,362 cases that had been reported last year.
Like the rest of the country, the most commonly identified flu strain causing local illnesses is now influenza A H3N2, which tends to sicken the elderly and the very young, as well as those with chronic medical conditions. Influenza A Pandemic H1N1 continues to circulate and a low number of influenza B viruses are also being reported.
“While influenza appears to be waning, it is still important for people to continue taking precautions to avoid getting sick,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “The best protection against the flu is getting vaccinated.”
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 April 6, 2019, the Influenza Watch report shows the following:
- Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 4 percent of all visits (compared to 5 percent as the previous week).
- Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 313 (compared to 556 the previous week).
- Total influenza deaths to date: 59 (compared to 333 at this time last season).
- Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 8,764 (compared to 20,362 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;
- Pregnant women;
- People 65 years and older; and
- 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; and
- If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others.
The flu vaccine is available at doctors’ offices, community clinics, 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.