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San Diego County Flu Deaths Ahead of Last Year’s Pace

San Diego County CA— (CNC) The number of local influenza deaths reported to date this season is higher than it was at the same point last year, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) announced today.

To date, there have been 19 influenza-related deaths, including 11 reported last week. In comparison, there had been 17 influenza-related deaths at the same time last year.

The ages of the 19 fatalities ranged from 68 to 95 years and all had underlying medical conditions.

“Influenza can be a deadly disease. Everyone should get a flu shot,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H, County public health officer. “If you have not done it, get vaccinated now. Flu activity in the region intensifies in January and February and typically lasts through the end of March or early April.”

Influenza claimed the lives of 70 San Diegans during the 2013-2014 season, 65 during 2012-2013. These were the deadliest flu seasons since HHSA began tracking the disease.

For the week ending Jan. 24, 2015, the HHSA Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 11 percent of all visits (up from 8 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 698 (down from 985 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 19 (compared to 17 last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 3,265 (compared to 2,025 last season)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every year. The vaccine is safe and effective. It takes two weeks for immunity to develop after receiving the vaccine.

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 your symptoms are under control
  • Pregnant women
  • People 65 years and older
  • People who live with or care for others who are at higher risk.

The CDC has indicated this year’s vaccine is not as good a match for one of the strains, but it is very well matched for the other strains. Partial protection is better than no protection and having the vaccine helps prevent severe illness and hospitalizations.

For more information on influenza, vaccine availability and tips on how to stay healthy, visit The Flu and You

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