Deadly flu seems unstoppable this year in San Diego - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Deadly flu seems unstoppable this year in San Diego

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Another five influenza-related deaths in the San Diego region were reported last week, bringing the "flu season" toll to 49, according to county health officials.

The number of fatalities is far above that of this time last year, when just 11 were reported, but well below the rate of 2015, in which 74 deaths were recorded by now.

The victims have generally been seniors, and most of them already suffered from a medical condition, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency.

The agency's weekly "InfluenzaWatch" also reported 418 new cases of the illness confirmed by laboratory testing, bringing the season total to nearly 3,800. Again, that's well above last year's mid-February amount of 2,600, but below the 2015 figure of around 5,800.

While health officials continue to urge people to get flu shots, the InfluenzaWatch report noted a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found this year's formula has been effective in preventing the flu for 48 percent of recipients. When isolated for the strain responsible for almost nine in 10 flu cases, the vaccine was effective 43 percent of the time.

The CDC recommended that vaccination efforts continue as long as influenza viruses are circulating, which should be a few more weeks.

The agency suggests annual flu shots 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. People 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.

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