County reports record-breaking number of cases last flu season

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SAN DIEGO -- The past flu season had a record-breaking number of cases, according to a new report released by San Diego County's health department.

During the 2017-2018 season in San Diego County, doctors said there were close to 21,000 cases of influenza, compared to fewer than 7,000 the year before. There were also more than 340 deaths reported compared to less than 90 the prior season.

“In recent years this is the largest number of deaths as well as cases that we have seen,” San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said. “The individuals that unfortunately did die most were over the age of 65. Most had not been vaccinated and almost 98 to 99 percent had underlying medical conditions."

Among those who died were two children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the previous vaccine against influenza A and B viruses was about 40 percent effective.

“The flu vaccine is not 100 percent,” Dr. Wooten said. 

However, doctors still recommend getting one.

“If you are infected, your symptoms will be less. It still will provide you some protection,” Dr. Wooten said. 

Health officials said they cannot predict how severe the upcoming flu season will be.

“We won’t know what’s happened until the flu season is over,” Dr. Wooten said. “We hope that we don’t have a season that was severe as last year but we are ready for the challenge if we do."

Flu season can begin as early as October and last through March, according to the CDC.

For those who do not have medical insurance, the health department said it gives vaccinations for free at public health clinics. Call 211 to find the location closest to you.

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