Woman, 92, becomes county's 2nd flu-related death

Health officials encourage citizens to get vaccine

SAN DIEGO - A second person in San Diego County has died from the flu, according to the county's Health & Human Services Agency.

The victim, a 92-year-old woman, passed away Tuesday, health officials confirmed. The first local flu death -- an 89-year-old woman -- was reported last November.

So far, county health officials confirmed there are 361 flu cases in the area -- up from 108 for this time last year.

Hospitals across the country are dealing with packed emergency rooms filled with people with flu-like symptoms. In some areas, hospitals have set up triage areas outside of the building to treat the patients with the flu.

In some parts of the country, there are reported vaccine shortages. However, in San Diego, health officials said there is no threat of a shortage.

Health officials noted even though the flu seems to be spreading quickly this year compared to last, the good news is the vaccine is still a good match for the virus.

"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," said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. "The best protection against the flu is to get vaccinated. It is not too late to be immunized."

Dr. Joe Zwass, who is in charge of the flu vaccine program at Kaiser Hospital, told 10News, "It's definitely a more severe virus than we've seen in a few years."

Medical professionals at Kaiser are seeing patient after patient come in for their vaccine. In December, Kaiser was vaccinating about 500 to 600 people a day. Now, that number has doubled to about 1,000 vaccines a day.

"Especially after the new year, we've seen a huge increase in demand for the vaccine," said Zwass.   

Kelly Avery and her 3-year-old son Jaden were among those waiting in line for their vaccines on Wednesday.

"This is probably the first year I have waited longer than usual," she said. "I usually get in November or December."

 Now, Avery regrets waiting. Both she and Jaden have been hit with the bug and she said it was ugly.

"It was pretty gnarly," she said. "It was long-lasting, consecutive over and over… it would go away and come back, so I don't want that to happen again."

Doris Corrado also made a special trip Wednesday for her immunization shot.

"I have a husband who had a stroke and I especially wanted to make sure he doesn't get sick," Corrado said.  

Both the mist and shot have three virus strains in them. Next year, doctors said the mist will have four, making it even more potent.

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