Flu shot
Courtesy County News Center

Another 18 influenza deaths were reported last week in the San Diego region, bringing this season’s total to 269, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced Wednesday.

The high death toll compares to 49 lives lost to influeza at this time last season, according to county officials.

A higher number of flu deaths are typically reported during a severe influenza season, which the county and nation are currently experiencing.

The predominant influenza strain circulating in San Diego and across the country this season is H3N2. It has a more severe impact in the elderly and the very young, according to county health officials.

The ages of the people who have died from flu this season range from 1 to 101. Thirty-four (13 percent) of these deaths were of people under 65 years old, which are the only cases public health agencies are required to report in California. San Diego County informs the public about all flu deaths, according to county officials.

“Influenza deaths are very unfortunate, but they occur in higher numbers during a severe flu season,” said Wilma Wooten M.D., M.P.H., San Diego County public health officer. “If you haven’t gotten vaccinated, do it now since the flu season can last through April and, sometimes, later.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated.

Considered safe and effective, the vaccine takes two weeks for immunity to develop.

Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk of developing serious complications from influenza.