Flu cases on the rise in San Diego County

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SAN DIEGO – The number of reported flu cases in San Diego County has taken a sharp increase, according to public health officials.

Between the last two weeks of 2012, the number of cases jumped from 30 to 81, Dr. Wilma Wooten of the San Diego Health and Human Services said.

“The thing that is predictable about flu season,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. “Is that it is unpredictable.”

flu-vaccineDr. Wooten said the local increase is significant, but warned the total number of cases is still not out of the ordinary for this time of year in San Diego County.

Dr. Wooten is urging residents to get a flu shot, saying it’s the best way to protect yourself.

“It can be anywhere from 80 to low 90 percent effective,” said Dr. Wooten. “But if you do get the flu your symptoms are going to be less severe.”

San Diego County resident Ches Blevins remembers a run-in he had with the flu many years. It was before he started getting an annual flu shot.

“One time in particular it was more than two weeks of just feeling lousy,” said Blevins. “Like chronically.”

Now Blevins said he gets the flu shot not only to protect himself, but his family.

“The kids are in school and they’re exposed to a lot of different things,” said  Blevins. “And so I don’t want to expose them myself. Plus what they bring home. They’re at school and there are germs and that’s why it’s also important that we have the kids vaccinated as well.”

Dr. Wooten said young children, the elderly and people with medical conditions are most at risk for the flu. She still recommends everyone get vaccinated, so they have a less chance of spreading the flu.

Simple health guidelines can go a long way in protecting you.

“Getting your flu shot first,” said Dr. Wooten. “Washing your hands frequently and if you do become ill, stay home.”

If you can’t afford to visit a pharmacy for your flu shot, the county has several locations that offer vaccinations for just $10. The fee may be waived if you are unable to pay. A list of the immunization clinics can be found on the San Diego Immunization Program website.

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