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San Diego Flu Season Death Toll Rises To 29

Nine more people died from influenza-related causes in San Diego County last week, including a 27-year-old woman, bringing the number of "flu season" fatalities in the region to 29, the county Health and Human Services Agency reported Wednesday.

Last year, 65 people died during the entire season, according to the HHSA.

The 27-year-old, whose named was not released, was the youngest to die so far this year. She had already been battling a medical condition, the nature of which was not disclosed. The others were either elderly or had pre-existing medical conditions.

"There are influenza deaths every year. Unfortunately, more young and middle-age people are dying this flu season because Pandemic H1N1 is the prevalent strain that is circulating," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "Influenza activity remains elevated so people should continue getting vaccinated and taking other preventive measures to avoid getting sick."

The HHSA indicated last week that the infection rate was slowing. The number of lab-confirmed influenza cases last week was 468, down from 609 the previous week.

For flu season as a whole, 3,083 cases have been reported.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every year. The vaccine is especially important for people who are at higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu, including people with certain medical conditions, pregnant women, and people 65 years and older.

The flu vaccine offers protection against the Pandemic H1N1, Influenza A H3N2 and Influenza B strains. It takes about two weeks for immunity to develop after getting vaccinated.

The flu vaccine is available at doctors' offices and retail pharmacies.

Those without medical insurance can go to a county public health center to get vaccinated. A list of locations is available online at www.sdiz.org or by calling 2-1-1.

Health officials suggest that in addition to getting vaccinated, people should wash their hands thoroughly and often, use hand sanitizers and avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth. They should also stay away from ill people, clean commonly touched surfaces and remain home when sick.

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