A woman receives a flu shot
A woman receives a flu shot. Courtesy San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency

San Diego County reported a spike in influenza cases in the past week, but public health officials said Wednesday the majority of those were earlier infections that were just reported.

Of the 170 flu cases reported the week ending Saturday, only nine occurred during that week. The rest are cases from previous weeks that date back to December.

“Fewer San Diegans are getting sick from the flu. However, influenza is unpredictable. People should continue taking precautions, especially getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Wilma J. Wooten, the county public health officer. “It is not too late to get vaccinated, and the vaccine is safe and effective.”

According to the county Health and Human Services Agency, in the past week emergency department visits for influenza-like illness were 4% of all visits, down from 7% the previous week.

The 170 newly reported influenza cases compare to 28 the previous week.

Total lab-confirmed cases to date number 1,483, compared to 848 at the same time last season and a 6,614 prior 5-year average during the same week.

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.

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 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
  • if sick, stay home and avoid contact with others

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

City News Service contributed to this article.