A woman receives a flu shot
A woman receives a flu shot in 2018. Courtesy San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency

San Diego County public health officials on Friday reminded residents that winter could bring a more virulent influenza season than those in the recent pandemic years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised this week that those who are eligible seek a flu shot by the end of October.

As health officials are still urging residents to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the CDC noted that coronavirus and flu vaccinations may be administered in one visit. Timing of the vaccines should be prioritized over convenience, however, they said.

“Even though both vaccines can be given at the same visit, people should follow the recommended schedule for either vaccine: If you haven’t gotten your currently recommended doses of COVID-19 vaccine, get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can, and ideally get a flu vaccine by the end of October,” the CDC stated in an influenza FAQ.

For children, the flu vaccine, Flucelvax Quadrivalent (ccIIV4), now may be administered to those 6 months and older.

Meanwhile, Dr. Wilma J. Wooten, San Diego County’s public health officer, reminded local residents that COVID-19 remains an issue, especially as people spend more time indoors for fall and winter.

“COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are our best protection against the virus and I encourage anyone who is eligible for a booster to get one,” said Dr. Wilma J. Wooten, county public health officer. “While COVID-19 numbers are currently trending down, the virus remains active and infectious in our community and we anticipate more cases in the coming months as people move activities indoors.”

According to county data, close to 1.45 million San Diegans have received a regular booster. The county has administered more than 400 bivalent boosters since limited supplies started arriving earlier this month, while the total from all providers throughout the county has surpassed 34,000.

The bivalent boosters were developed to generate an immune response from the original COVID-19 virus, as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants.

The Omicron variants are still causing the majority of new COVID- 19 infections in the region.

The Pfizer/BioNTech bivalent booster is available for people 12 and older. Moderna bivalent boosters are authorized for those 18 and older, but are not readily available in the region as the county awaits additional vaccines from the state.

The bivalent boosters have not yet been authorized for children under the age of 12. Youths in that age group can get boosted with the previous version of the Pfizer vaccine.

San Diegans must be fully vaccinated with the primary series of one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines before receiving a bivalent booster.

Anyone who wants a bivalent booster must wait at least eight weeks after they received a previous COVID-19 vaccine until they are eligible.

Those who are fully vaccinated and recently tested positive for COVID-19 should wait three months after infection to get a bivalent booster.

As far as current COVID patients, the number of people in the county hospitalized with the infection dropped by nine to 198, according to the latest state data.

Of those patients hospitalized as of Friday, 23 were in intensive care, down by three.

Staff and wire reports