SAN DIEGO — Three deaths due to flu complications were confirmed in San Diego County last week, bringing this flu season’s death toll to five, county health officials announced Wednesday.
According to the county Health and Human Services Agency, a 77-year- old woman died due to influenza B on Dec. 1, and a 49-year-old man died from influenza A complications on Dec. 4. The county also received a delayed report of an 80-year-old woman’s Oct. 15 death from influenza B. All three had additional health problems and had not received this flu season’s vaccination.
At this time last year, the county had received four reports of flu- related deaths.
“Influenza deaths are very unfortunate but serve as a reminder that the flu can be deadly, especially for at-risk populations,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. “Vaccination is the best protection against the flu. The vaccine is safe and effective and can help save lives.”
Lab-confirmed influenza cases nearly doubled during the week of Dec. 2- 8 compared to the previous week, according to the county’s weekly flu report, which lists 199 flu cases vs. 102 the week before. The county has confirmed 650 flu cases so far this season, nearly half of the 1,083 reported cases at this time last year.
Last flu season, 342 San Diego residents died due to flu complications. Most victims were 65 or older, had additional medical issues and did not receive the flu vaccination. The death toll was the highest since the county began tracking flu season data nearly 20 years ago.
County health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone 6 months or older receive the flu vaccine every year. Health officials strongly advise the vaccination for people with a heightened risk of serious flu complications, like pregnant women, people older than 65 and people with chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes.
County residents can get vaccinated at doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, community clinics and the county’s public health centers. Residents can also call 2-1-1 or visit the county’s immunization program website, sdiz.com, for a list of county locations administering free vaccines.