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San Diego Flu Season Death Toll Rises To 14

A sign tells customers that they can get a flu shot in a Walgreen store is se...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: A sign tells customers that they can get a flu shot in a Walgreen store is seen in Indianapolis, Sept. 16, 2014.

Six new influenza-related deaths in the San Diego region, including that of a previously healthy 45-year-old woman, were reported Thursday by county health officials.

The "flu season" death toll rose to 14, compared to three at this time last year. The other fatalities involved older people who had underlying medical conditions, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency.

"Influenza can be deadly, especially for those with underlying chronic conditions," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county public health officer. "It is not too late to get vaccinated. The vaccine is a good match against the circulating flu strains and can provide good protection against the illness."

Nearly 1,800 influenza cases in the region have been confirmed by laboratory testing, nearly triple the number at this time last year, according to county health data.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu shots annually for everyone at least 6 months old. Vaccination is more important for people with weakened immune systems, as well as those who are pregnant, elderly or live with or care for others at high risk.

Other suggestions for staying healthy include frequent hand-washing, using hand sanitizers, staying away from sick people, avoiding touching the eyes, nose or mouth, and cleaning commonly touched surfaces.

Flu vaccines are available at doctors' offices and pharmacies. People without medical insurance can go to a county public health center to get vaccinated.

A list of locations is available at www.sdiz.org or by calling 211.

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