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Number Of New San Diego County Flu Cases Declines For Fourth Week

Three people died of influenza-related causes last week in San Diego County, but the number of reported cases of the virus dropped for the fourth week in a row, the county Health and Human Services Agency announced Wednesday.

The "flu season" death toll hit 46, with most of the victims either elderly or already suffering from a medical condition. Last year, there were 65 flu-related deaths.

The HHSA said 78 laboratory-confirmed flu cases were reported last week, compared to 196 the week prior and 297 the week before that. That brings the season total to nearly 3,600, according to the agency.

"Influenza activity has steadily decreased over the past month. However, the flu season is not over," said Dr. Eric McDonald, the county deputy public health officer. "People should continue taking precautions, including getting vaccinated."

Special Feature Flu Strikes Younger Adults Hard This Year

More than 60 percent of flu patients who ended up in the hospital this year have been between the ages of 18 and 64.

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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