SAN DIEGO COUNTY, CA – Three additional flu-related deaths were confirmed in San Diego County last week, bringing this flu season’s death toll to five, county health officials announced Wednesday.

A 77-year-old woman died due to influenza B on Dec. 1, and a 49-year-old man died from influenza A complications on Dec. 4, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency. The county also received a delayed report of an 80-year-old woman’s death from influenza B on Oct. 15. All three had additional health problems and had not received a flu shot this season.

At this time last year, four people had died from the flu, according to the county.

“Influenza deaths are very unfortunate but serve as a reminder that the flu can be deadly, especially for at-risk populations,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer.

“Vaccination is the best protection against the flu. The vaccine is safe and effective and can help save lives.”

The county has confirmed 650 flu cases so far this season, nearly half of the 1,083 reported cases at this time last year.

Last flu season, 342 people died due to flu complications in San Diego County. Most victims were 65 or older, had additional medical issues and did not receive the flu shot. The death toll was the highest since the county began tracking flu season data nearly 20 years ago.

Health officials recommend that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot every year. The vaccine is especially recommended for people with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and lung disease, pregnant women, people 65 years and older, and people who live with or care for others who are at higher risk.

The flu vaccine is available at doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, community clinics and the county’s public health center. Call 211 or visit sdiz.org for a list of locations.