The number of lab-confirmed flu cases is more than double the past three-year average for this point in the season, and it’s on par with the 2017-18 season, which was severe.
That’s why County Health and Human Services Agency officials are encouraging San Diegans to get vaccinated now before the worst of the flu season gets here.
“People should get vaccinated now to avoid getting sick and infecting others,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “The vaccine is safe and effective and is available throughout the region.”
Last season, 77 people in the region died from complications from the flu and 9,655 lab-confirmed cases were reported, which was down from the previous season’s 343 deaths and 20,833 lab-confirmed cases. Last season, the first flu death occurred Oct. 15, 2018, while the first death the previous season occurred Oct. 1, 2017.
The County Health and Human Services Agency today published this season’s first Influenza Watch weekly report, which tracks key flu indicators and summarizes influenza surveillance in the region. The report is released every Wednesday during the flu season.
“Based on what was seen in the Southern Hemisphere during last year’s flu season, earlier deaths reported this year and the increased number of lab-confirmed flu cases reported to date, we could anticipate that this season may be as severe as two years ago,” Wooten said. “However, we just don’t know until time has passed. That is why it’s important to get the flu shot.”
For the week ending Sept. 28, 2018, the Influenza Watch report shows the following:
• Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 2 percent of all visits (compared to 2 percent the previous week)
• Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 36 (compared to 22 the previous week)
• Total influenza deaths to date: 2 (compared to 0 at this time last season)
• Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 235 (compared to 67 last season and 111 the past three-year average)
Who Should Get a Flu Shot
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated. It takes about two weeks for immunity to develop.
Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk of developing serious complications from influenza. They include:
• People with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and lung disease, even if symptoms are under control
• Pregnant women
• People 65 years and older
• People who live with or care for others who are at higher risk
In addition to getting vaccinated, people should also do the following to avoid getting sick:
• Wash hands thoroughly and often
• Use hand sanitizers
• Stay away from sick people
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
• Clean commonly touched surfaces
• If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others
The flu vaccine is available at doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies. If you don’t have medical insurance, you can go to a County public health center to get vaccinated. For a list of locations, visit sdiz.org or call 211 San Diego.