OLYMPIA — State health officials are already seeing influenza cases across the state, and they expect the number to rise in the coming weeks. People are urged to get a flu shot now as the best line of defense against flu.
“The flu can, and does, make people really sick,” said Dr. Kathy Lofy, health officer for Washington State Department of Health. “Most healthy people who get the flu don’t need urgent medical care; however, people in a high-risk group and those who are very sick should contact their health care provider as soon as possible.”
Flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months of age and up. Serious complications from influenza are more likely to occur in high-risk groups such as young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with certain medical conditions. Health care providers, and others in close contact with people in high-risk groups, should get a flu shot to protect themselves and the people in their care.
People who are sick should stay home so they don’t spread the flu to others. Antiviral medication may be prescribed to help reduce the severity and duration of flu illness.
Washington had 278 confirmed flu deaths in the past year, and medical facilities saw high numbers of patients seeking care for flu. While most people with the flu can be safely treated at home, there are some symptoms that should trigger immediate medical care. To find out what to do if you feel sick with flu-like symptoms read this guide from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control: www.cdc.gov/flu/takingcare.htm.
Department of Health encourages everyone to knock out flu with an annual flu shot. Visit KnockOutFlu.org for places to get your flu shot, weekly flu updates, and more.