Flu vaccine
A nurse prepares a shot of flu vaccine. Courtesy County News Center

The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency Wednesday confirmed a fourth death from influenza in the region, an 87-year-old woman from South County.

The woman died March 1, had underlying medical conditions and had not been vaccinated against the flu, health officials said. She did not have COVID-19 when she died.

“While this flu season is relatively mild compared to many previous years, influenza-related deaths have already doubled from last season,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer. “It is not too late to get a flu shot and protect yourself and your loved ones. The flu vaccine is safe and effective and is recommended for everyone six months and older.”

According to the HHSA, in the past week, emergency department visits for influenza-like illness were 2% of all visits, same as the previous week.

Overall cases of the flu remain relatively low, with 53 new lab-confirmed cases in the past week, compared to 29 the week before.

Total lab-confirmed cases to date this season number 1,657, compared to 718 at the same time last season and a prior five-year average during the same week of 9,809.

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.