An all-time high of 65 people died during the last "flu season" in San Diego County, the county Health and Human Services Agency reported Wednesday.
The death toll topped the 58 who perished during the H1N1 pandemic three years ago.
Most of the deaths -- which occurred between July 1, 2012, and June 30 of this year -- involved elderly victims, and nearly all of them had underlying medical conditions, according to the HHSA.
The agency blamed a severe strain of the illness -- H3N2 -- which took even healthy people a couple of weeks to shake.
County and local health officials have scheduled a Friday kick-off event for the upcoming flu vaccination season to encourage everyone to get immunized. The San Diego Black Nurses Association will be offering 400 free flu shots to adults 18 years or older from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center, 6401 Skyline Drive.
More than 5,300 influenza cases in the San Diego area were confirmed by laboratories during the last flu season, with the peak near the end of January and early in February, the HHSA reported.
The agency said the latest flu vaccine is already available at doctors' offices and pharmacies. People without medical insurance can get a flu shot at a county public health center.
Other precautions people should take include washing their hands thoroughly and often; using hand sanitizers; staying home when ill; avoiding touching the eyes, nose, and mouth; and routinely cleaning commonly touched surfaces, according to the HHSA.
-City News Service