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Influenza shot rates low, cases up as county anticipates severe flu season

Americans encouraged to get flu shot as US prepares to battle both flu and COVID-19
Posted at 4:23 PM, Nov 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-03 19:23:47-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego County public health officials said Wednesday they are continuing to see the number influenza cases outpace the five-year average, leading them to believe it could be a severe flu season.

For the week ending Saturday, a total of 28 influenza cases were reported in San Diego compared to the previous five-year average of 19 during the same week, the county Health and Human Services Agency reported. To date, 257 flu cases have been reported in the region, compared to an annual average of 182 over the past five years.

"This increase of cases comes at a time when people are interacting and gathering indoors more than last year, and fewer San Diegans have gotten the flu vaccine compared to last season," said Dr. Wilma J. Wooten, county public health officer. "The best way to lower your risk of getting influenza is to get vaccinated."

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:

-- 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

-- The total number of county residents who have been vaccinated so far is 690,617, far below last year's 770,054 at the same time.

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 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 ( reventable_Diseases/Seasonal_Influenza/Flu_Vaccine_Locations.html) 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.