Flu cases on the rise across county

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SAN DIEGO — Influenza cases around the San Diego region are coming in at a faster rate than last year, county health officials reported Wednesday.

A total of 141 lab-confirmed cases have been reported to date this flu season, 86 more than at the same time last year, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency.

No one has died from flu complications thus far, according to the HHSA.

Last winter, 70 people died from influenza-related causes. The death toll was 65 the year before.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every year. The vaccine, which health officials say is safe and effective, takes two weeks for immunity to develop.

Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk of developing serious complications from influenza, such as those who have chronic medical conditions, are pregnant, elderly, or live with or care for others who are at higher risk. The majority of fatalities involved people who were seniors or already suffering health problems.

The HHSA said this season’s vaccine covers the same strains of influenza as last year because they’re the ones that have been circulating in countries around the world.

Other suggestions to avoid getting sick are washing hands thoroughly and often; using hand sanitizers; staying away from sick people; avoiding touching the eyes, nose, and mouth; cleaning commonly touched surfaces; and staying home and avoiding contact with others if you’re sick.

The flu vaccine is available at doctors offices and retail pharmacies.

Those without medical insurance can go to a county public health center to get vaccinated. A list of locations is available online at www.sdiz.org or by calling 2-1-1.

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