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Not too late to get a flu shot, health officials say

Public Health of Seattle and King County - Contributed art
Public Health of Seattle and King County
— image credit: Contributed art

King County Health officials note that cases of the flu are on the rise.

A press release issued today reminded people to get vaccinated if they have not already done so.

“It's easy to get complacent about the flu, since we see it every year, but it brings real hardship and dangers,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Chief of Communicable Disease Epidemiology & Immunization for Public Health – Seattle & King County. "

Younger adults face a greater risk of severe illness than usual. Locally and across the country, healthcare providers are reporting an increase in severe influenza infections – requiring intensive hospital care for young and middle-age adults. The predominant strain circulating currently is influenza A H1N1, the same one that led to the 2009 flu pandemic.

Pregnant women should get vaccinated at any stage of pregnancy. The flu vaccine is both safe and effective for pregnant women, including during the first trimester. Vaccinating during pregnancy protects not only the mother but the fetus and child as well. Newborns can't be vaccinated until they're six months old.

But anyone who lives with or cares for an infant younger than six months should also get vaccinated.

Other members of the community at increased risk for severe influenza include the elderly and people who have long-term health problems, like diabetes, asthma, and heart or lung problems.

Flu vaccine is the best protection; but other drugs are also available.

The flu vaccine is in plentiful supply, and it's not too late to get vaccinated to reduce your chances of getting the flu. Influenza activity generally peaks in January or later in our region and continues circulating until spring.

Another important line of protection is antiviral drugs, especially for people with severe influenza or at high risk of complications.

Flu vaccine is available at many healthcare provider offices and pharmacies. Visit http://flushot.healthmap.org to help find locations.

If you don't have insurance, you can find free or low-cost insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder. Other immunization assistance is available through the Family Health Line at 800-322-2588.

 

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