SAN DIEGO — A 14-year-old girl who died of influenza-related complications in San Diego County last week is the first child in the region to die due to the flu this season, county health officials announced Wednesday.
The girl, who had not received a flu vaccination and dealt with underlying medical issues, died Feb. 12. During last flu season, two children died from flu complications, according to the county.
A total of five flu deaths were recorded last week in the county, health officials said. The other four residents — ages 82, 73, 62 and 56 — all had underlying medical issues, as well.
“Pediatric influenza deaths are very unfortunate. Our condolences go out to the family,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. “It is extremely important that people get vaccinated because influenza can be deadly.”
The deaths bring the county’s flu season death toll to 35. At this time last flu season, 268 people had died due to complications.
Last week saw the highest number of confirmed flu cases this season, 539 per the county’s weekly flu report.
County health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly advise the annual flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older, especially demographics with a heightened risk of serious complications, such as pregnant women, people older than 65 and people with chronic conditions. Recent flu seasons have extended as late into the year as May, according to county health officials.
Flu shots are available at doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, community clinics and the county’s public health centers. Residents can also call 211 or visit the county’s immunization program website, sdiz.com, for a list of county locations administering free vaccines.