90-year-old man is 1st victim of flu season

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Flu Vaccine

SAN DIEGO — A 90-year-old man is the first person to die of influenza-related causes in the San Diego region during the new “flu season,” the county Health and Human Services Agency reported Monday.

The man, whose name was not released, had existing medical conditions. He tested positive for influenza A and died Wednesday, according to the HHSA.

County health officials said that in the last flu season, the first of 97 local influenza-related fatalities did not occur until January. Flu activity was much higher then.

“Influenza activity in San Diego is currently low, but this unfortunate death reminds us that it can be a serious and deadly disease,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. “That is why it is strongly recommended that people get the vaccine.”

The HHSA reported only 80 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases in San Diego County as of Oct. 24. There also haven’t been many flu cases across the country, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The best protection against the flu is to get vaccinated, and now is the time to do it,” Wooten said.

The CDC recommends flu shots annually for everyone who is 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. Those without medical insurance can go to a county public health center to get vaccinated. A list of locations is available online or by calling 211.