Flu shot bandage. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The number of local influenza cases continues to climb, San Diego County health officials said Wednesday, prompting another reminder to get vaccinated for the illness.

The county’s seasonal total stands at 353 cases following 42 infections reported for the week ending Saturday. Last year at this time, just 28 infections had been reported, and the five-year average for that date is 327.

“This holiday season, share the joy, not the germs,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer. “The flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and those around you. Get vaccinated now.”

For the week ending Saturday, the county Health and Human Services Agency reported:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness were 3% of all visits, same as the previous week
  • Total influenza deaths to date were zero, the same as last season at this time

Every Wednesday during flu season, the Health and Human Services Agency publishes the Influenza Watch weekly report, which tracks key flu indicators and summarizes influenza surveillance in the region.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot every year. People with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, people age 65 and older and people who live with or care for others who are at higher risk are all more likely to get seriously sick from the flu.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination to develop protection against the virus.

The vaccine is available at doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies and is covered by medical insurance. People with no health care coverage can get vaccinated at one of the county’s six public health centers or a local community clinic.

To find the nearest location, visit the county’s Flu Vaccine Locations page — or call 2-1-1 San Diego.

In addition to getting vaccinated, health officials said people should also do the following to avoid getting sick:

  • wash hands thoroughly and often
  • use hand sanitizers
  • avoid sick people
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • clean commonly touched surfaces
  • if you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others

Last season, 848 influenza cases were reported in San Diego County, including two deaths. In 2019, a total of 108 San Diegans died from influenza and more than 20,700 flu cases were reported.

City News Service contributed to this article.

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