Eight more flu-related deaths were reported in San Diego last week, health officials confirmed Thursday, bringing the total number of deaths this season to 57.
By this same time last year, 25 people had died from the flu in the county, though the average number of flu deaths for this time of year from the previous three seasons is 56.
“The number of confirmed flu cases went down last week in the county, even though reported deaths went up,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer, in a statement. “Influenza can cause illness at any time of the year, so people should get vaccinated and take other preventive measures.”
The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) said influenza activity has reached a new high this season. People aged 31 to 98 years old have died from the flu, though most have been over the age of 65.
Wooten said for those with underlying health conditions, influenza can be deadly. This is why health officials recommend getting a flu vaccine, as it is considered the best protection against the illness.
Health officials recommend an annual flu shot; after the vaccination, it takes two weeks for immunity to develop, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The vaccination is especially recommended for those at high-risk of experiencing complications with the flu, including people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women and people age 65 and older.
The HHSA’s latest “Influenza Watch” report, from the week ending on Feb. 11, says six percent of all emergency department visits in San Diego were patients experiencing flu-like symptoms.
There were 335 lab-confirmed cases of influenza for the week, down from the 408 the week prior.
To date, there have been 4,112 lab-confirmed cases of the flu in San Diego. Last year at this time, there were 3,812.
Flu season in the U.S. occurs between December and May.
For a list of county public health centers where you can get a flu shot, click here or call 211.