Seattle and King County is encouraging people to vaccinate now to protect against the flu. Flu season can begin as early as October.
"Flu vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from flu," said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health for Seattle and King County.
Influenza can cause significant lost time from work and school, as well as the expense of doctor visits. In some instances, it can also cause hospitalization and even death.
"We've begun to get reports of confirmed influenza infections in our community, including our schools," said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Chief, Communicable Disease Epidemiology & Immunization at Public Health for Seattle and King County. "Vaccinate now to protect yourself and your family."
Health experts recommend that everyone six months and older get the flu vaccine, especially people at high-risk for severe influenza, including:
- children 6 months through their fifth birthday
- pregnant women, to protect both the mother and the newborn infant
- adults age 50 years and older
- people with chronic health problems like diabetes, heart, liver, lung, kidney, and certain neurological diseases, and extreme obesity.
Household members, care givers, and other close contacts of high-risk people should get vaccinated to prevent them from spreading influenza.
Vaccine supply is widely available in King County. Flu shots are available at doctors' offices, clinics, pharmacies, and other providers. Some health care providers and pharmacies may also have FluMist, the nasal spray vaccine.
As always, healthy habits can limit the spread of contagious illnesses, including the flu. Cover coughs and sneezes, wash hands often, avoid close contact with ill people, and stay home from work, school, and other public settings when ill.