A San Diego resident died this week from complications due to the influenza virus marking the first local flu-related death of this season.
County health officials said the 86-year-old man had not been vaccinated and died on Oct. 1. He had preexisting medical conditions and tested positive for influenza A.
"This death is an unfortunate reminder that influenza can be fatal," said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. "The seasonal influenza vaccine is widely available and we urge everyone six months of age and older to get it before flu activity increases."
Health officials are urging the public to take precautionary measures to avoid the virus, including getting the flu vaccine every year. Currently, the flu vaccine protects against pandemic H1N1, influenza A H3N2 and influenza B strains.
"The best protection against the flu is to get vaccinated, and the time to do it is now," Wooten added.
Some recommendations to avoid contracting the virus:
- 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
Last flu season, 86 San Diego County residents died from influenza including two children, health officials said.
The county is sponsoring free flu shot clinics this month. County public health centers have the flu vaccine available for children and adults who don't have medical insurance. For a list of locations, visit this site or call 211.
The vaccine is also available throughout San Diego County at doctors' offices and retail pharmacies.