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.

Getting the flu vaccine and taking other illness prevention measures helps keep yourself and your loved ones healthy. It also is an important way to reduce the number of severe flu-related complications and help preserve capacity in our healthcare system.

Help keep yourself and your community healthy this year by:

  • Getting your annual flu shot
  • Staying home if you are ill 
  • Choosing to wear a mask over your nose and mouth in indoor public spaces when flu or other respiratory viruses are circulating at high rates
  • Covering coughs and sneezes
  • Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water, and using hand sanitizer when soap and water isn't available


Flu shots protect against the most common types of the seasonal flu virus and are recommended yearly for everyone age 6 months and older who does not have a contraindication (a medical reason you should not receive an influenza vaccine)

Flu shots reduce the likelihood of severe flu complications and also reduce the spread of disease to those who are at highest risk for severe disease and complications, including:

  • 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

Types of flu viruses vary by community and year, making it essential to get the new vaccine each year. It is best to get vaccinated by the end of October so the antibodies can develop before the flu season gets under way.


  • Your regular clinic or local healthcare provider
  • Your local pharmacy
  • Find more flu vaccine options using the online tool.


  • Get vaccinated if you, someone you live with, or someone you care for is at high risk of complications from the flu.
  • Healthcare and childcare workers should be vaccinated to protect themselves and their patients and clients.
  • Mild reactions, such as soreness at the injection site or headaches, are fairly common side effects of the flu vaccine.
  • Severe reactions, such as difficulty breathing, hives, or facial swelling, are extremely rare and require medical attention.

Learn more about flu vaccines from the Washington State Department of Health. 


Most health insurances pay for an annual flu vaccine as a preventive measure. Healthcare providers may charge for an office visit, the vaccine and administrative fees. Children under age 19 can get vaccinated against the flu and other illnesses through the Childhood Vaccine Program which pays for the vaccine on behalf of children.


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.


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), and other symptoms are gone or getting better.


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 or your child 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


During flu season, this report is typically updated weekly or as needed, providing a snapshot of flu activity in Snohomish County.


Past Reports


None at this time.