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 121 new lab-confirmed influenza cases Wednesday, bringing the total case count for this season to 1,941 — more than double the number reported at this time last season.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer, said flu cases “have started to increase over the last several weeks, a trend we attribute to fewer people using face coverings once most masking mandates ended in California.”

“It is not too late to get vaccinated against the flu and protect ourselves and others from getting sick,” Wooten added.

According to the county Health and Human Services Agency’s most recent Influenza Watch Report for the week ending March 26:

  • emergency department visits for influenza-like illness are 3% of all visits, same as the previous week
  • lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week were 121, compared to 95 the previous week
  • total lab-confirmed cases to date are 1,941, compared to 736 at the same time last season and a 11,014 prior five-year average during the same week
  • influenza-related deaths reported to date are four, compared to two at the same time last year

From 2020-21, the county reported 848 influenza cases and two deaths. During the 2019-20 flu season, the county reported over 20,700 flu cases and 108 deaths.

According to the county, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot every year. It takes about two weeks for immunity to develop.

The CDC also says that a person can get a flu and COVID-19 vaccination at the same time. The coronavirus vaccine does not work against influenza and vice versa, county officials said.

According to the county, the flu vaccine is especially important for people at higher risk of having serious complications from the virus, including those with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and lung disease; pregnant women; those 65 years and older; or people living with or caring for others at higher risk.

The flu vaccine is available at private doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies, and is covered by medical insurance. Those with no health care coverage may get the vaccine 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.

The county also recommends that residents:

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

City News Service contributed to this article.