East County

Third San Diegan Dies of Flu, But Case Numbers Remain Relatively Low

A 64-year-old man from East County died from the flu in January, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency confirmed


The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency confirmed Wednesday a third death from influenza in the region, a 64-year-old man from East County.

The man died Jan. 7, had underlying medical conditions and had not been vaccinated against the flu, health officials said. He did not have COVID-19 when he died.

"Influenza deaths are very unfortunate. Our condolences go out to the man's family and friends,'' Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer, said in a statement. "While influenza activity is low this season, you can still catch it, and it can be severe. Everyone six months and older should get a flu vaccine, which is safe and effective.''

According to the HHSA, in the past week, emergency department visits for influenza-like illness were 2% of all visits, down from 3% the previous week.

Overall cases of the flu remain relatively low, with 38 new lab-confirmed cases in the past week, compared to 34 the week before.

Total lab-confirmed cases to date this season number 1,581, compared to 702 at the same time last season and a prior five-year average during the same week of 8,775.

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

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot every year. People with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, people age 65 and older and people who live with or care for others who are at higher risk are all more likely to get seriously sick from the flu.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination to develop protection against the virus. The 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 211. In addition to getting vaccinated, health officials said people should:

  • wash hands thoroughly and often;
  •  use hand sanitizers;
  •  avoid sick people;
  •  avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth;
  •  clean commonly touched surfaces; and
  •  if sick, stay home and avoid contact with others.

Every Wednesday during flu season, the HHSA publishes the Influenza Watch weekly report, which tracks key flu indicators and summarizes influenza surveillance in the region.

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