SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Five more influenza-related deaths in the region were reported by San Diego County health officials Wednesday, bringing the "flu season'' toll to 11.
The latest victims ranged in age from 44 to 91, and four had underlying medical conditions, the county Health and Human Services Agency reported.
The rate of infections continues to increase, with a total of 838 lab- confirmed cases reported during the week ending Feb. 20, compared to 599 diagnosed the previous week. Last week's total was the highest so far this year.
"It's unfortunate five more people died from complications from the flu," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "Influenza activity has intensified and hundreds of new cases are being reported. People should get vaccinated now since the flu season can last through the spring and into the summer."
Despite the increasing numbers of illnesses and deaths, the numbers remain far below last year.
The HHSA reported 74 fatalities at this point in 2015. So far, more than 2,600 cases of influenza have been confirmed in the lab, compared to over 5,800 this time last year.
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. 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.
County health officials Monday reminded residents to get the current flu vaccine before the end of October.
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