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Three die from flu-related issues

Flu season is here, and the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) reminds residents that the flu is serious business.

A Pierce County child is believed to have died from the flu, and two adults in King County are also believed to have died from flu-related issues.

"Any death from a preventable illness is upsetting, and it's especially heartbreaking when a child dies," said Secretary of Health Mary Selecky. "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."

According to the DOH, the Pierce County boy was under 12 years old, and the King County cases involved a man in his 80s and a woman in her 70s.

The DOH advises that everyone ages six months or older should get a flu shot annually. Children and the elderly should especially get a flu shot due to their increased vulnerability.

Those who do get the flu shot need about two weeks before they're fully protected, according to the DOH. Children under age 9 may need two flu shots about four weeks apart to be properly protected. The DOH notes that the current flu shot is well-matched to the various strains that are already spreading.

The flu can spread when people with the flu "generate droplets from their mouths or noses while coughing, sneezing, or talking." Those droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. The flu also spreads when people touch surfaces that have the flu virus on it, then touch their own eyes, mouth or nose. People infected with the flu virus can spread it before any symptoms begin, and can spread it for up to seven days afterward.

Children can carry and spread the virus even longer than that, according to the DOH.

As always, the DOH recommends the vaccination and common-sense health precautions to help stop people from contracting the flu, or spreading it afterward. Washing hands, covering coughs, and staying home when sick are a few of the precautions the DOH recommends.

Flu vaccine

Information on where to find flu shots is available through health care providers, local health agencies and the state's Family Health Hotline, which can be reached at (800) 322-2588. The DOH has an online "flu vaccine finder" at www.doh.wa.gov.

 

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