There's Still Time, And Need, For More Vaccinations


While not a worst-case tragedy, a third wave of H1N1 flu is due soon

It was a wonderful afternoon on Jan. 8 at Qualcomm Stadium as I traded greetings with more than a hundred people lined up for our first mass H1N1 flu vaccination clinic. What I experienced was as visible a scene as one could imagine of county government doing its job for the people. 

But we are not finished yet. 

San Diego County’s vaccination numbers so far are impressive, or at least getting there. The 3,298 inoculations at Qualcomm represented about a third of the 10,616 given at January’s five mass vaccination clinics. All told, the county alone has directly protected nearly 90,000 citizens from this terrible flu, along with countless others who may otherwise have been exposed to the virus. All of these were given free of charge. 

The story gets even better when you consider the work of our local health care partners: the hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and even entrepreneurs like those providing vaccinations now at the airport. By mid-January, nearly 1.3 million doses of the vaccine were filled for folks in San Diego County authorized to administer the treatment. If the majority of those vaccines have been given, more than a third of our three million residents today stand protected. 

These results are good. But they need to get better. 

While this flu may not have lived up to some of the most dire predictions, it is only mild in the eyes of those who were expecting hundreds, perhaps more, local deaths. We still have had 55 San Diegans die, the largest number from the flu recorded in modern times. And for those so far spared, if you’ve spoken with a less fortunate friend, or a parent who nursed a feverish child, you know the symptoms for even a “mild” case are actually quite severe and even debilitating. 

As a community, we must continue encouraging ourselves, friends, family and neighbors to get vaccinated. It is our diligence so far – coughing into the crook of our arm, being rigorous in washing hands and using sanitizer lotion, staying home when sick, and even getting vaccinated – that combined with the less-virulent-than-expected nature of this disease have kept this nasty virus contained. 

That said, a third wave is very likely coming. We don’t know when or how bad it is going to be. The 1918-19 pandemic flu, featuring a nastier virus, rolled through San Diego in waves, eventually killing hundreds. The San Diego Historical Society has a photo of high school students wearing masks. 

Please, for those who have not done so, I urge you to contact your health care provider and get vaccinated. If that isn’t possible, visit your closest Public Health Center for a free vaccine. 

I keep updated vaccination information on this Website and those who call 2-1-1 will be directed by an operator to the closest clinic. Watch for news about other H1N1 vaccination options that may be available to you. Our outreach efforts, will, and must, remain aggressive and creative. 

Protecting the health of our community is everyone’s job. I am grateful for your help.


It was very encouraging to see
how many people turned out
for the first mass vaccination
clinic at Qualcomm Stadium.