Does it seem like more people are calling in sick with the flu later in year this winter season than in winters past?
It's not your imagination, says the Washington State Department of Health. Influenza, which most often peaks in February, is on the rise and has not yet reached its peak, the department reported.
The department said it's not too late to get a flu vaccine that will protect from this seasons' flu viruses.
“Flu is a serious disease that puts many people in the hospital and claims a lot of lives each year in our country,” says Secretary of Health Mary Selecky in a prepared statement. “Fortunately, we have a vaccine that offers the best protection against flu. We can all do our part to protect our communities.”
Everyone six months and older should get a flu shot each year, according to the department of health. Some children under age nine may need two doses about four weeks apart to be fully protected, the department reported.
Flu vs cold?
The flu is more severe than a cold, the department noted:
Flu often causes fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, headaches, and fatigue. Most healthy adults can spread the flu before they know they’re sick and for up to seven days after. Children can spread it for even longer. To avoid spreading the flu, people should wash their hands, cover their cough, and stay home if they’re sick.
If you’re sick with flu, antiviral medications can lessen symptoms and help prevent serious complications. They work best when started quickly. People at high risk for complications who develop flu-like symptoms should contact their doctor promptly to see if they need medication. Those at high risk include people with certain medical conditions, pregnant women and women who recently gave birth, young children, and people 65 years and older.
The state encouraged people also to protect themselves against whooping cough, which is active throughout the state. Though infants are vaccinated against whooping cough, the state recommends that teens and adults get a whooping cough booster, called Tdap vaccine, to help stop the spread of this disease and protect babies.
According to the Flu Vaccine Finder the following pharmacies on Mercer Island are offering the flu shot:
- , 7707 SE 27th St, (206) 232-1197, M-F 8 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m. - 10 p.m.
- , 3023 78TH Ave SE, (206) 236-0776 M-F: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m., Sat: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sun: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
On the web, on the phone
To find an immunization clinic, call your healthcare provider, visit a local pharmacy, use the Department of Health Flu News website or call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588. The Flu Vaccine Finder is also a good resource.