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SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – Flu season is early this year but it’s not too late to protect yourself.
National Influenza Vaccination Week is Dec. 1-7, a good reminder for people to get their annual flu shot if they haven’t already.
Flu vaccination is the best way to prevent the illness or make it less severe. It also helps reduce the spread of the flu and protects those more vulnerable to serious complications, including young children, pregnant women, older adults, or people with chronic health problems like heart or lung disease.
It can take about two weeks after vaccination for the antibodies that protect against the flu to develop, so it’s best to get vaccinated early in the season or before it starts. Children older than six months and adults should be vaccinated. Hundreds of millions of Americans have received flu vaccines over the last 50 years and extensive research has been done on the vaccine’s safety.
Flu cases began picking up in Snohomish County in mid-November. The season typically peaks between January and March, but the timing and severity can vary from year to year.
Three people have been hospitalized this season in Snohomish County. No deaths have been reported.
Last flu season, 26 deaths were reported and 362 people were hospitalized in Snohomish County.
Along with the annual vaccine, people can avoid spreading the flu by washing their hands thoroughly, covering their cough, and staying home if they feel ill. Around the holidays, it’s also important to remember never to prepare or serve food while sick.
While other respiratory illnesses like the common cold are also more frequent this time of year, the flu tends to strike abruptly with a higher fever and more severe symptoms. Residual cough and fatigue can last for weeks.
Information on symptoms, treatment and vaccination, along with weekly reports during flu season, are available online at www.snohd.org/flu.
An online tool to find a flu vaccine provider by ZIP code is available at www.snohd.org/155/Flu-Vaccine-Information.
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.