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San Diegans urged to get flu vaccine in time for holidays

While influenza cases are still low in the region at the moment, it takes about two weeks after vaccination to develop protection against the virus.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — The County of San Diego is ramping up its flu vaccination efforts to lower the risk of San Diegans getting influenza this holiday season. County health officials are concerned this year’s flu season will be more severe than last year, when many people were staying at home due to COVID-19.

While influenza cases are still low in the region at the moment, it takes about two weeks after vaccination to develop protection against the virus. That’s why it’s best to get vaccinated before influenza starts to spread in the community.

“The upcoming Halloween festivities are a great reminder that the holiday season and the increased gatherings it brings are right around the corner,” said Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer.  “This holiday season, protect yourself and others by getting a flu shot. It’s the best way to protect yourself from influenza.”

The County Health and Human Services Agency publishes the Influenza Watch weekly report, which tracks key flu indicators and summarizes influenza surveillance in the region.

For the week ending Oct. 23, 2021, the report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 3% of all visits (compared to 3% the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 0 (there were no deaths at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 229 (compared to 10 last season and an average of 163 at this date for the past five years)

Preventing the Flu

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot every year. It takes about two weeks for immunity to develop. The CDC also indicates you can get a flu and COVID-19 vaccination at the same time.

The flu vaccine is especially important for people at higher risk of having serious complications from the virus.

They include:

  • People with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and lung disease, even if symptoms are under control
  • Pregnant women
  • People aged 65 years and older
  • People who live with or care for others who are at higher risk

The influenza vaccine is now available at doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies and is covered by medical insurance. People with no health care coverage can get vaccinated at one of the County’s six public health centers or a local community clinic. To find the nearest location, visit the County’s Flu Vaccine Locations page or call 2-1-1 San Diego.

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

In 2020, a total of 848 influenza cases were reported in San Diego, including two deaths. In 2019, a total of 108 San Diegans died from influenza and more than 20,700 flu cases were reported.

WATCH RELATED: What San Diego doctors say about getting a flu shot this year (Sep 21, 2021)