Even though we’re approaching the end of March, influenza activity in the region is still elevated and people should continue getting vaccinated, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.
Flu-related deaths went up to 319 in San Diego County after 11 more fatalities were reported last week. San Diegans who died from flu this season range in age from 1 to 101, and almost all had underlying medical conditions. Forty-one (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 number of lab-confirmed flu cases went down last week, but is still elevated compared to previous flu seasons. A total of 399 flu cases were reported compared to 685 the previous week.
Emergency department visits of patients with flu-like symptoms dropped from 4 to 3 percent last week. The peak of 13 percent was reported in late December.
“The flu is still going strong in San Diego County,” said Wilma Wooten M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Those who have not been vaccinated should get a flu shot since influenza is likely to continue for a few more weeks or longer.”
For the week ending March 24, 2018, the County Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch report shows the following:
- Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 3 percent of all visits (compared to 4 percent the previous week)
- Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 399 (compared to 685 the previous week)
- Total influenza deaths to date: 319 (compared to 79 at this time last season)
- Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 19,883 (compared to 5,085 last season)
It’s Not Too Late for a Flu Shot
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
- 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 San Diego.