SAN DIEGO – An 89-year-old woman died from influenza — the first reported death in San Diego County of this year’s flu season – and county health officials Wednesday encouraged residents to get vaccinated against the disease.
Influenza could turn serious or deadly,especially for the elderly ,infants and those with chronic conditions like heart disease or diabetes, the county Health and Human Services Agency reported.
“This death serves as a reminder that influenza, regardless of what type, can be deadly,” county Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said. “The best protection against the flu is to get vaccinated. It is not too late to be immunized.
”During last year’s flu season, 14 people died from complications of influenza,county officials said. Influenza caused 58 deaths in San Diego County in the 2009-10 flu season, and 24 fatalities in the 2010-11 season, according to the agency.
Two types of vaccines are available — an injection that contains the killed virus and a nasal spray made with live, weakened flu viruses, according to the Centers for Disease Control. They protect against three forms of influenza expected to be most common during flu season.
Antibodies that protect against influenza develop about two weeks after vaccination. Although the CDC recommended the vaccine for everyone 6 months and older, it was especially recommended for people who were at higher risk of developing serious complications, including pregnant women, people 65 and older and those with certain medical conditions like asthma and diabetes.
County officials said public health centers have the vaccine available for those without medical insurance. A list of locations is available at sdiz.org or by calling 211.
In addition to getting vaccinated, Wooten recommended washing hands thoroughly and often or using hand sanitizers; avoiding sick people; avoiding touching the eyes, nose and mouth; and cleaning commonly touched surfaces.