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San Diego County pushes flu shots as holidays, influenza season approach

Americans encouraged to get flu shot as US prepares to battle both flu and COVID-19
Posted at 11:47 AM, Oct 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-27 14:47:03-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) — San Diego County public health officials said Wednesday that they're increasing efforts to get county residents flu shots before influenza season begins in earnest.

The number of flu cases in the county remains relatively low, but the county Health & Human Services Agency believes this season will be more severe than last year, when many people were wearing masks, social distancing, and staying home more often.

"The upcoming Halloween festivities are a great reminder that the holiday season and the increased gatherings it brings are right around the corner," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer.

"This holiday season, protect yourself and others by getting a flu shot. It's the best way to protect yourself from influenza."

It takes about two weeks after vaccination to develop protection against the virus.

Every Wednesday during flu season, the HHSA publishes the Influenza Watch weekly report, which tracks key flu indicators and summarizes influenza surveillance in the region.

For the week ending Saturday, the report shows the following:

-- Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness were 3% of all visits, same as the previous week;

-- Total influenza deaths to date were zero, same at this time last season; and

-- Total lab-confirmed cases to date were 229, compared to 10 last season and an average of 163 at this date for the past five years.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot every year. People with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, people age 65 years and older, and people who live with or care for others who are at higher risk are all more likely to get seriously sick from the flu.

The influenza vaccine is available at doctors' offices and retail pharmacies and is covered by medical insurance. People with no health care coverage can get vaccinated at one of the county's six public health centers or a local community clinic.

To find the nearest location, visit the county's Flu Vaccine Locations page or call 211.

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.

Last season, 848 influenza cases were reported in San Diego, including two deaths. In 2019, a total of 108 San Diegans died from influenza and more than 20,700 flu cases were reported.