COUNTY HEALTH OFFICIALS URGE PUBLIC TO GET FLU SHOTS FOLLOWING SEVEN FLU DEATHS LOCALLY

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January 15, 2014 (San Diego) -- Six more influenza-related deaths were reported in the San Diego area last week, the County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) has announced. 

To date, seven flu-related deaths have been reported locally this season and all tested positive for Pandemic H1N1. The people who died ranged in age from 35 to 80 years old and all had underlying medical conditions. Only one is known to have received a flu shot this season. Last season, 65 flu-related deaths were reported in the county.

For the week ending January 11, 2014, HHSA reported the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 8 percent of visits (same as previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 677 (361 previous week)
  • Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 1,391 (716 previous week)

The predominant influenza virus identified in San Diego this season is Pandemic H1N1.  This is similar to the flu seen in other parts of the country.  Compared to last season, a significantly higher proportion of young and middle-aged adults are being reported with flu, which is expected with H1N1.

County health officials are encouraging everyone to get immunized to help protect themselves and their loved ones against the flu, especially now that influenza activity is widespread across the region and the state.

“Although influenza activity in San Diego has greatly increased over the past month, it’s not too late to get immunized. The vaccine is the best protection against the flu,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer.  “Influenza can be a serious and deadly disease, especially for the elderly and young infants, as well as for people with chronic conditions like heart disease or diabetes.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every year. The vaccine 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 current flu vaccines offer protection against Pandemic H1N1, Influenza A H3N2 and Influenza B strains. It takes about two weeks for immunity to develop after getting vaccinated.

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 vaccine is 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 www.sdiz.org or call 2-1-1.