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By José A. Álvarez, County of San Diego Communications Office

Image credit: PhotoSpin

December 28, 2016 (San Diego) -- For the past two months, the number of local lab-confirmed flu cases has been steadily increasing week to week, the County Health and Human Services Agency reported today.

The week ending October 22, 2016, seven influenza cases were reported in San Diego County. By the week ending December 24, 2016, the number had increased to 149.

Given the increasing number of influenza cases, County health officials continue to remind San Diegans to get vaccinated.

“The flu is anticipated to continue to spread until the peak, which could be in February,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Avoid getting sick. Get a flu shot now.”

For the week ending December 24, 2016, the Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 4 percent of all visits (compared to 2 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 149 (up from 148 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 4 (compared to 3 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 589 (compared to 247 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
  • 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.