First Winter Flu Death Reported in San Diego

By Katie Cadiao, County of San Diego Communications Office

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A flu shot is recommended for everyone 6 months and older.

A 42-year-old man from the North Central region of the county is the first influenza death reported in San Diego this season, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced.

The man died on Dec. 9. 2021, He had underlying medical conditions and had not been vaccinated against influenza. He tested negative for COVID-19.

Influenza cases also continued to increase december last week.

The County Health and Human Services Agency is reporting 192 lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week ending Dec. 25, a slight increase from the previous week when 188 flu infections were reported.

“Vaccination is the best defense we have against the flu,” said Cameron Kaiser, M.D., M.P.H., County deputy public health officer. “Flu season generally peaks between December and February, and this season’s first flu death reminds us that San Diegans who have not gotten immunized should do it now to protect themselves from becoming ill.”

The County Health and Human Services Agency publishes the weekly Influenza Watch report, which tracks key flu indicators and summarizes influenza surveillance in the region.

For the week ending Dec. 25, 2021, the report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 5% of all visits (compared with 4% the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 192 (compared to 188 the previous week)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 1,052 (compared to 54 at the same time last season and a 1,699 prior 5-year average during the same week)

How to Prevent the Flu

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot every year. It takes about two weeks for immunity to develop. The CDC also indicates you can get a flu and COVID-19 vaccination at the same time, including a booster dose. The coronavirus vaccine does not work against influenza and vice versa.

The flu vaccine is especially important for people at higher risk of having serious complications from the virus.

They include:

  • People with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, and lung disease, even if symptoms are under control
  • Pregnant women
  • People aged 65 years and older
  • People who live with or care for others who are at higher risk

The influenza vaccine is available at doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies and is covered by medical insurance. People with no health care coverage can get vaccinated at one of the County’s six public health centers or a local community clinic. To find the nearest location, visit the County’s Flu Vaccine Locations page or call 2-1-1 San Diego.

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

In 2020, a total of 848 influenza cases were reported in San Diego, including two deaths. In 2019, a total of 108 San Diegans died from influenza and more than 20,700 flu cases were reported.

 

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