CDC director gets a flu shot
Former CDC Director Tom Frieden gets a flu shot. Courtesy CDC

With the number of seasonal flu cases rising across San Diego County, doctors are advising people to get vaccinated and follow common-sense procedures to avoid getting sick.

“The best protection against the flu, especially now that the flu season is surging, is getting vaccinated,” said Scripps Health Chief Medical Officer James LaBelle. “In addition, people should wash their hands thoroughly and often, and avoid contact with sick people.”

The number of confirmed influenza cases has risen significantly with 574 reported so far this season, compared to 174 at the same time last year, according to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency. Four flu-related deaths have been reported, compared to one at this time last year

Those most at risk of developing flu-related complications include people 65 years and older, children under the age of 2, pregnant women and people with chronic conditions such as asthma and heart disease.

While stressing the importance of vaccination, Scripps Health offered these eight common-sense tips for avoiding the flu and preventing its spread:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Watch out for flu symptoms, which can include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.
  • Stay away from sick people.
  • If you become sick, stay home from work and school and avoid contact with others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone without using fever-reducing medicine.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Avoid the emergency room unless you are suffering from more serious flu symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; chest or abdomen pain or pressure; sudden dizziness; confusion; severe or persistent vomiting; or flu symptoms that improve but then return with fever and a worse cough.
  • For children, seek emergency medical help if they are breathing fast or are having trouble breathing; have bluish skin color; aren’t drinking enough fluids, aren’t waking up or interacting; are so irritable they don’t want to be held; have a fever with a rash; aren’t able to eat; don’t shed tears when crying; have significantly fewer wet diapers than normal; or flu symptoms that improve but then return with fever and a worse cough.
  • Check with your doctor to see if you should be treated with an antiviral drug.

Scripps Health treats more than 700,000 patients annually through at its five acute-care hospitals and 27 outpatient centers and clinics.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.