SAN DIEGO–Local health officials are urging San Diego county residents to get their flu shots.
The flu typically starts to spread at the end of October, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said
That’s why Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer, joined City of San Diego officials to encourage people to get vaccinated before the flu hits.
Wooten, Councilmember Mark Kersey, Mayor Kevin Faulconer and other city officials urged San Diegans to get vaccinated at a news conference downtown.
“The influenza vaccine is readily available across the region. Get vaccinated now,” Wooten said. “Everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated before flu season arrives.”
City of San Diego officials also used the opportunity to announce the city will be installing hand sanitizers at libraries and recreational centers. The effort is spearheaded by Kersey, whose brother Brad died from pandemic influenza H1N1 in 2014. Also, the San Diego chapter of the California Restaurant Association will also be donating 200 hand sanitizing stations, which members can place in their eating establishments.
“You have to do everything you can do to protect yourself,” said Kersey. “We want to avoid other families having to go through the same situation.”
Last season, 342 people 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 of the people who died were over the age of 65 and had underlying medical conditions. Two children also died of flu last year.
One of the reasons for the high number of deaths was that the region and the country experienced a severe flu season. However, the high number of deaths identified locally was also due to the County’s broad surveillance and use of detailed reporting systems.
Wooten said people with pre-existing medical conditions are more likely to experience serious complications from influenza, but healthy persons could unexpectedly have severe illness that leads to disability and death. People who get the flu may be contagious for a full day before they start to feel symptoms and consequently spread the disease to vulnerable family members.
“The vaccine is safe and effective. All San Diegans should get vaccinated to avoid getting sick and spreading the virus to others,” said Wooten.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months or older get vaccinated against the flu.
The vaccine is especially recommended for:
- People with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and lung disease, even if your symptoms are under control
- Pregnant women
- People 65 years and older
- People who live with or care for others who are at higher risk
This season’s flu vaccine offers protection against several strains of the flu, including influenza A H3N2, pandemic H1N1-like and influenza B strains. The CDC estimates about 163 to 168 million doses of flu vaccine will be available this season.
The influenza vaccine is available at doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies. People without medical insurance can go to a community clinic or a County public health center.
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
- Clean commonly touched surfaces
- If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others
Visit www.sdiz.org or call 2-1-1 San Diego to find a list of County locations. The County provides free vaccinations as part of the County’s Live Well San Diego vision of healthy, safe and thriving residents and communities.