SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A 17-year-old girl has died of influenza-related complications, the first pediatric fatality in the San Diego region this year, county health officials reported Wednesday.
The teen, who lived in the inland North County area, already suffered from a medical condition when she was stricken with the flu, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency. She died Feb. 25, but the death was only reported to county health officials last week.
"Influenza deaths are very unfortunate, but a teen dying from the flu is especially tragic," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county public health officer. "Many people may have spring vacations coming up, and you should get vaccinated at least 2 weeks before your trip."
Last year, a 9-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl died of influenza- related causes.
So far during this "flu season," 72 people have died, compared to 57 at this time last year. All but three already had underlying medical conditions and most were over the age of 65.
More than 4,900 cases of the flu have been confirmed by laboratory testing in San Diego County this year, compared to over 5,400 at the same point last year, according to the HHSA.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu shots annually for everyone at least 6 months old. Vaccination is more important for people with weakened immune systems, as well as those who are pregnant, elderly or live with or care for others at high risk.
Other suggestions for staying healthy include frequent hand-washing, using hand sanitizers, staying away from sick people, avoiding touching the eyes, nose or mouth, and cleaning commonly touched surfaces.
Flu vaccines are available at doctors' offices and pharmacies. People without medical insurance can go to a county public health center to get vaccinated. A list of locations is available at www.sdiz.org or by calling 211.