Baby dies of flu on New Year’s Eve

SAN DIEGO -- A 12-month-old child died on New Year's Eve after contracting influenza, bringing the total flu deaths in San Diego County this season to 45, health officials reported Wednesday.

The baby, like all of the others who died from the flu this season and for whom information is available, had underlying medical conditions, according to county health officials.

"The death of a child is very unfortunate. Our sympathy goes out to the family for their tragic loss," said Dr. Sayone Thihalolipavan, the county's deputy public health officer.

This time last flu season, there were five deaths in San Diego County. There have been 7,314 lab-confirmed flu cases so far this season, compared to 883 last season.

Public health officials are urging people to get vaccinated if they haven't already done so and to stay home if they are sick.

"We are seeing a very high number of flu deaths and cases," Thihalolipavan said. "Sick people should stay home to avoid infecting others at work, in school or in public places. People should not shake hands, share food or drinks, or kiss if they are sick."

Vaccination is especially important for those who are at high risk of developing serious complications from the flu. They include people with chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes and lung disease; pregnant women; those over 65; and people who live with or care for those who are at higher risk, health officials said.

Vaccines are available at doctors' offices and retail pharmacies. Those without insurance can go to a county public health center to get vaccinated. For a list of locations, visit online or call 211.