San Diego, California - Influenza activity in the region continued to decline over the past week, although three additional flu deaths were reported.

For the week ending Feb. 22, 2014, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency released the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 6 percent of all visits (unchanged from previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 78 (196 previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 46
  • Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 3,647

The age of San Diegans who have died from the flu ranged from 26 to 100 years old, and almost all had underlying medical conditions. Sixty-five deaths were reported locally last flu season.

“Influenza activity has steadily decreased over the past month. However, the flu season is not over,” said Eric McDonald, M.D., M.P.H., County deputy public health officer.  “People should continue taking precautions, including getting vaccinated.”

The influenza season in Southern California typically ends in early April, but influenza may be present throughout the year.  Anyone who travels out of the country should be up-to-date on a flu vaccination because influenza seasons vary depending on the region.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 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 current flu vaccines offer protection against Pandemic H1N1, Influenza A H3N2 and Influenza B strains. It takes about two weeks for immunity to develop after getting vaccinated.

In addition to getting vaccinated, you should also wash your hands thoroughly and often, use hand sanitizers and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

Staying away from sick people, cleaning commonly touched surfaces and staying home when sick are also recommended.

The flu vaccine is available at doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies. If you don’t have medical insurance, you 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.