State health officials urge vaccinations as flu spreads

January 6, 2013

By Staff

NEW — 6 a.m. Jan. 6, 2013

State health officials urged residents to get vaccinated as influenza spreads across Washington.

The flu recently caused three deaths statewide — two adults in King County and a child in neighboring Pierce County.

Officials said many flu-related deaths may go unreported because the illness is not lab-confirmed or the patient is not tested for influenza.

“Any death from a preventable illness is upsetting, and it’s especially heartbreaking when a child dies,” state Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said in a statement. “These deaths are a somber reminder that flu is serious and makes thousands sick in our state each year. With flu season picking up, it’s important to remember that we can protect ourselves and our loved ones with a flu shot.”

Flu can cause serious illness, even in healthy people.

Everybody 6 months and older should get a flu shot each year. The vaccination is especially important for people at high risk for complications from the flu, including young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women and recent months, and people with certain medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and neurological conditions.

The flu spreads as people with the virus generate droplets from their mouths or noses during coughing, sneezing or talking. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of others.

People can also get the flu by touching a surface or object with flu virus on it and then touching their mouth, eyes or nose.

Infected people can spread flu before they feel sick and up to seven days after. Children can spread the flu for even longer.

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