SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – The flu season is upon us, with cases already presenting in local clinics. So keep yourself safe. Wash hands, cover coughs and stay home if you’re sick, but above all get vaccinated.
Influenza is serious. During the 2015 – 2016 flu season in Snohomish County, there were:
- 4 deaths
- 104 hospitalizations
- 16 schools reporting >10% absenteeism due to Influenza-Like-Illnesses
And according to the Washington State Influenza Update, two laboratory-confirmed influenza deaths have already been reported in Washington State for the 2016 – 2017 season.
Getting a current flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and others and is recommended for all persons aged 6 months and older. Because the nasal spray flu vaccine (FluMist) was not effective during the most recent flu seasons, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that FluMist not be used for the 2016 – 2017 season. The CDC recommends only the flu shot.
Families should check with their healthcare providers and get their vaccines when supplies are available, rather than waiting for a preferred brand. However, as disease usually peaks in Washington between January and March, it is never too late to be vaccinated.
Adults 19 and older should check with their healthcare providers or pharmacy for the flu vaccine. Children ages 6 months through 18years can receive a seasonal flu vaccine at no cost through the Vaccines for Children (VCF) program, although healthcare providers may charge an administration fee.
If you are 65 years or older, two new vaccine formulations are available, including a much stronger high-dose vaccine and another that includes a component that provides extra protection for those with aging immune systems (who are at higher risk for severe disease and complications). An annual flu vaccine, including either new formulation licensed for seniors, is covered by Medicare, Part B.
Dr. Goldbaum, Health Officer and Director for the Snohomish Health District, reminds us to “never become complacent about influenza. It can make people very ill and cause us to miss work or school. And although most people will recover, influenza remains a leading cause of death, especially among the very youngest and oldest.”
Visit the Snohomish Health District’s Flu page, found under the Diseases & Risks menu, for more information and resources, including the Flu Vaccine Finder widget: www.snohd.org/Diseases-Risks/Flu. You can also find more flu vaccine recommendations and flu season updates at: www.doh.wa.gov
The Snohomish Health District works for a safer and healthier community through disease prevention, health promotion, and protection from environmental threats. To read more about the District and for important health information, visit www.snohd.org.