County health officials said Thursday that flu activity has been extremely low in San Diego County this year, likely due to the preventative measures taken countywide to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The county said a total of 18 influenza cases have been reported this flu season compared to 400 cases at the same time last year. There have also been no influenza deaths this flu season, while three flu-related deaths occurred at the same time last year. Health officials said a total of 108 San Diegans died from influenza last flu season.
County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten suggested that stay-at-home orders issued due to the COVID-19 pandemic has played a role in the reduction in flu activity.
"When the stay-at-home order was issued last season, flu cases dropped dramatically. We're seeing the same trend this season, and we hope it continues," Wooten said. "It's clear that wearing a face covering, maintaining social distance, avoiding large crowds and taking other preventative measures are also helping to slow the spread of influenza."
Wooten also said more San Diegans are getting vaccinated this season, with nearly 818,660 people getting flu shots compared to 746,095 at the same time last year.
"San Diegans are stepping up to get vaccinated against influenza and that is also a good thing," Wooten said. "A flu shot helps to lower the risk of San Diegans getting influenza and the novel coronavirus at the same time and prevent the local health care system from being overwhelmed."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot every year. It takes about two weeks for immunity to develop.
The influenza vaccine is now 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, call 211 or click here.
"The influenza vaccine is safe and effective," Wooten said. "Get vaccinated now so that you can get protected when influenza begins to spread."