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Five more influenza deaths reported in San Diego

SAN DIEGO, California -- Five more San Diegans died from complications from influenza, bringing the total to nine this season, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) reported on Wednesday.

Their ages ranged from 68 to 95 years and all had underlying medical conditions.

“Influenza activity in San Diego continues to be elevated. This flu season is on track to be moderately severe, similar to what we saw in both of the past two seasons,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H, County public health officer. “Vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu. Get your shot today. It’s not too late.”

Influenza claimed the lives of 70 San Diegans during the 2013-2014 season, the highest total since HHSA began tracking the disease. Sixty-five deaths were reported during the 2012-2013 flu season.

Flu activity in the region intensifies in January and February and typically lasts through the end of March or early April.

For the week ending Jan. 17, 2015, the HHSA Influenza Watch report shows the following.

-Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 8 percent of all visits (up from 6 percent the previous week)

-Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 848 (up from 658 previous week)

-Total influenza deaths to date: 9 (compared to 9 last season)

-Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 2,430 (compared to 1,423 last season)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every year. The vaccine is safe and effective. It takes two weeks for immunity to develop after receiving the vaccine.

Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk of developing serious complications from influenza. They include the following.

-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.

The CDC has indicated this year’s vaccine is not as good a match for one of the strains, but it is very well matched for the other strains. Partial protection is better than no protection and having the vaccine helps prevent severe illness and hospitalizations.

For more information on influenza, vaccine availability and tips on how to stay healthy, visit The Flu and You.

(Editor's note: This post was originally published on San Diego County NewsCenter.)