The Flu

Influenza, more commonly called the flu, is a highly contagious respiratory illness. Flu seasons can be unpredictable and severe. Hospitalizations and deaths related to flu occur every year in Snohomish County, yet less than half of all adults get vaccinated yearly as recommended.

This year, getting the flu vaccine and taking other illness prevention measures are especially important. Reducing the spread of flu and the number of severe flu-related complications can help preserve capacity in our healthcare system to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Help keep yourself and your community healthy this year by:

  • Staying home if you are ill 
  • Limiting your interaction with people outside your household
  • Covering coughs and sneezes
  • Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water, and using hand sanitizer when soap and water isn't available
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a cloth mask in shared spaces
  • Getting a flu shot to protect again influenza

FLU VACCINE

Flu shots protect you by reducing the likelihood of severe flu complications. Flu shots also reduce the spread of disease to those who are at highest risk for severe disease and complications:

  • Young children
  • Older adults
  • Those with chronic conditions like asthma, high blood pressure, and diabetes
  • Immunocompromised persons
  • Pregnant women
  • Residents of nursing homes and long term care facilities

A seasonal flu vaccine is recommended for everyone age six months and older who does not have a contraindication (a medical reason you should not receive an influenza vaccine).  

A flu vaccine is a safe and effective way to get your immune system ready for flu season. An army of antibodies will be on guard to protect you from the inside when the flu virus threatens on the outside. 

Flu vaccination can reduce symptoms that may be confused with COVID. It is now more important than ever to keep healthcare systems from being overwhelmed.

FLU SYMPTOMS

Different viruses cause the flu and the common cold, but they can be very similar. The flu tends to be worse than the common cold, with more intense symptoms including:

  • Boy sick with the flu blowing his noseBody aches
  • Cough
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Vomiting or diarrhea (more common in kids than adults)

Resource: Cold, Flu, or COVID?

New flu viruses continue to develop and affect the health of our community. You can help protect yourself and your family from the flu by getting vaccinated, washing hands frequently, covering coughs, and staying home when sick.

FLU TREATMENT

If you are sick with the flu, you may be ill for a week or longer. Most children and adults with the flu who are generally in good health will recover without needing to visit a health care provider. Things to remember if you or a loved one are sick:

  • Please stay home, except if you need medical care or other necessities
  • If you leave the house to seek medical care, wear a facemask.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the sleeve of your elbow.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and rest as much as possible.
  • Wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap or use a hand sanitizer.
  • Do not return to work or school until your fever is gone for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin).

WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL CARE

If you are pregnant or have an underlying health condition, call your health care provider to get advice on whether you need to be seen.

Resource: Home versus Hospital - When to Seek Care (PDF)

If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, please seek emergency care:

  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Bluish or gray skin color (call 911 immediately)
  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Fever in infants younger than 3 months old
  • Not able to drink or keep liquids down
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Sudden dizziness or confusion

SNOHOMISH COUNTY INFLUENZA SURVEILLANCE REPORTS

During flu season, this report is typically updated weekly on Fridays, providing a snapshot of flu activity in Snohomish County.

PAST REPORTS

SPECIAL NOTICES FROM PROVIDERS

None at this time.