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Health

Two More Flu-Related Deaths Reported In San Diego County

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A man and a woman in their 80s died of influenza-related causes in the past week, bringing the area's "flu season" toll of fatalities to four, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency announced Wednesday.

The man, 88, and woman, 86, were already dealing with other medical problems, the HHSA said.

The two previous flu victims were women in their 80s who also had underlying medical conditions.

Last year, 70 people died of causes related to the illness. The toll was 65 the year before.

"Influenza can be a serious and deadly disease," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county public health officer. "It is not too late to get vaccinated."

The HHSA is urging residents to get vaccinated since flu activity in the region intensifies in January and February and typically lasts through the end of March or early April.

The confirmed influenza infection rate was more than double that of last year, with 1,530 cases reported during the current flu season, compared to 717 in early January 2014.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu shots annually for everyone who is 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 a high risk.

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

Flu vaccines are available at doctors offices and pharmacies. Those 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.