Flue vaccine and needle. Courtesy County News Center
Flue vaccine and needle. Courtesy County News Center

The current flu season has become the deadliest in the San Diego region, with four people dying due to influenza-related causes last week, the county Health and Human Services Agency announced Wednesday.

The death toll reached 72, breaking last year’s record-setting number of 70, according to the HHSA.

“This is the deadliest flu season we’ve ever recorded in the region,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county public health officer. “Unfortunately, the majority of the people who died had not been vaccinated.”

The fatalities occurred in people aged 51 to 104, and all had underlying medical conditions, county health officials said.

The increasing toll has come despite a recent slowdown in flu cases.

Last week, 117 cases were confirmed via laboratory testing, compared to 275 the week before. County data show the weekly number of cases has dwindled for about a month.

For all of flu season, more than 6,200 cases have been reported by the HHSA, compared to almost 3,800 at this time last year.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu shots annually for everyone who is at least 6 months old. Vaccination is more important for people with weakened immune systems, as well as those who are pregnant, senior citizens or live with or care for others at high risk.

Flu vaccines are available at doctors offices and pharmacies. Those without medical insurance can go to a county public health center to get vaccinated. A list of locations is available at www.sdiz.org or by calling 211.