San Diego flu season: Hand sanitizer stations part of city, county plan to combat flu virus

Posted at 6:35 AM, Oct 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-10 15:40:25-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV/CNS) - A group of city and county officials announced plans Wednesday to fight back against the flu virus in San Diego during this flu season.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, San Diego City Councilman Mark Kersey and San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten were among the officials who appeared at the San Diego Central Library Wednesday to announce the “Clean Hands Save Lives” campaign.

The installation of hand sanitizer stations at all San Diego libraries and recreation centers are a main part of the initiative. The city has partnered with Waxie Sanitary Supply and hygiene product manufacturer Gojo Industries to install the sanitizing stations and make them available for public use.

The city is making a concerted effort to fight the virus this flu season after a record 342 residents died of flu-related causes during the 2017-2018 flu season, a 293 percent increase over the city's 87 deaths during the 2016-2017 flu season. Wooten advised all residents last month to get the vaccine, which protects against multiple flu strains and takes about two weeks to take effect.

"Everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated now before flu season arrives," Wooten said. "The vaccine is safe and effective. All San Diegans should get vaccinated to avoid getting sick and spreading the virus to others."

The flu vaccine is available at doctors' offices, local retail pharmacies, community clinics and the county's public health center. The vaccine takes two weeks to reach its full efficacy, but health officials won’t know how targeted this year’s vaccine will be, according to Wooten.

The effort is especially important to Councilman Kersey. His brother, Brad, was a father of four who died in 2014 after contracting the H1N1 flu virus.

“My brother was 38. He had no underlying health issues. Probably was a little overworked and could’ve used a few more hours of sleep. Beyond that, he had no underlying health issues; it hit him hard,” Kersey said.

“There was no underlying reason why it should have affected him the way it did. I think that’s really the message that I’m trying to convey -- turning that family tragedy into something other people can learn from,” the councilman added.