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San Diego County Announces First Flu Death Of The Season

A flu vaccine vial is shown in this undated photo.

Credit: San Diego County

Above: A flu vaccine vial is shown in this undated photo.

San Diego County recorded its first flu death this season, involving a 52-year-old woman who had underlying medical conditions, the Health and Human Services Agency announced Wednesday.

The unnamed San Diego resident died last Friday, according to the HHSA, which said her vaccination status was unclear.

Two flu deaths had been reported in the region at this time last year.

"Any death is tragic. Our condolences go out to the individual's family," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "This death serves as an unfortunate reminder of the importance of getting a flu shot."

Last season, 342 people in San Diego County died from complications from the flu, 255 more than the previous season and the highest total since the county began tracking flu deaths nearly 20 years ago. The majority were over the age of 65 and had underlying medical conditions, but two children also died of influenza last year, amid a severe flu season nationwide.

For the week ending Nov. 3, the HHSA reported 26 lab-confirmed influenza cases, compared to 24 the previous week, with 155 total lab-confirmed cases to date, compared to 383 last season. Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness accounted for 2 percent of all visits, unchanged from the previous week, according to the HHSA.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot every year. It takes two weeks for immunity to develop.

Vaccination is especially important for those at high risk of developing serious complications from influenza, including people with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and lung disease, even if symptoms are under control; pregnant women; people 65 years and older; and people who live with or care for others who are at higher risk.

In addition to getting vaccinated, people should also do the following to avoid getting sick:

— wash hands thoroughly and often;

— use hand sanitizers;

— stay away from sick people;

— avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; and

— clean commonly touched surfaces.

If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others.

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. For a list of locations, visit www.sdiz.org or call 2-1-1.

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