The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency Wednesday reported 96 lab-confirmed influenza cases from last week, up from 60 the week prior.
A total of 1,818 flu cases have been reported through Saturday, more than double the 733 reported at the same time last year. The past two influenza seasons have been much milder than the prior five-year average, when 10,651 cases had been reported at this time.
“While we’re not seeing influenza case counts as high as in many previous seasons, San Diegans should continue getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer. “The flu vaccine is the best protection we have to protect ourselves and others from getting sick.”
According to the HHSA, in the past week, emergency department visits for influenza-like illness represented 3% of all visits, up from 2% the previous week.
A total of four influenza-related deaths have been reported so far this season.
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.
Health officials nationally have noted that flu cases dropped dramatically over the past two years, thanks primarily due to infection-control measures, stay-at-home orders and other restrictions implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19.
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:
— wash hands thoroughly and often;
— use hand sanitizers;
— avoid sick people;
— avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth;
— clean commonly touched surfaces; and
— 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