Flu shot season. Photo via smchealth.org

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 423 cases following 70 infections reported for the week ending Saturday. The five-year average for that date is 401.

“Influenza continues to spread in the region. San Diegans should get vaccinated and take other preventive measures to avoid getting sick,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, county deputy public health officer. “The flu vaccine is safe and effective, and you can get it at the same time as your COVID-19 booster.”

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

For the week ending Saturday, the agency reported that emergency department visits for influenza-like illness were 3% of all visits, down from 4% the previous week, and total influenza deaths to date were zero, the same as last season at this time.

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 at sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/hhsa/programs/phs/immunization_branch/Vaccine_Pr eventable_Diseases/Seasonal_Influenza/Flu_Vaccine_Locations.html or call 211.

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

— wash hands thoroughly and often;

— use hand sanitizers;

— avoid sick people;

— avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth;

— clean commonly touched surfaces; and

— 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

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