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San Diego County urges flu shots before holiday gatherings

San Diego flu season: Flu deaths reach record high
Posted at 12:44 PM, Dec 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-08 15:48:57-05

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego County public health officials Wednesday encouraged residents to get influenza vaccinations before the typical rise in cases during the holidays and winter months.

"Indoor holiday celebrations and other gatherings make it easier for influenza to spread," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer. "The vaccine is the best defense we have against influenza. Get vaccinated now to prevent getting sick and making others ill."

The county's seasonal total stands at 535 cases following 123 infections reported for the week ending Saturday. The five-year average for that date is 505.

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

For the week ending Saturday, the agency reported that emergency department visits for influenza-like illness were 4% of all visits, up from 3% the previous week, while total influenza deaths to date were zero, the same as last season at this 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.

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

The 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 at eventable_Diseases/Seasonal_Influenza/Flu_Vaccine_Locations.html or call 211.

In addition to getting vaccinated, health officials said people should also do the following:

  • Wash hands thoroughly and often;
  • Use hand sanitizers;
  • Avoid sick people;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth;
  • Clean commonly touched surfaces; and
  • If sick, stay home and avoid contact with others.

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