Flu vaccine procrastinators take note: Influenza activity remains minimal in Washington state, but it may soon be on the rise.
According to this week's CDC Flu activity report, influenza levels are on the increase across the country.
Five states: Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, are reporting flu rates not normally seen until January, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The flu season normally peaks in January and February.
Holiday travel and more time spent indoors due to recenty soggy weather will contribute to the spread of the flu virus, so now is the time to get vaccinated.
According to the Washington State Department of Health, everyone six months of age and older should get a flu shot. Those who are vulnerable to flu are young kids, people 65 and older, pregnant women, parents of newborns, and people with medical conditions like asthma and other lung diseases, heart disease, diabetes, and neurologic conditions, the health department reported.
People can ask their providers for different types of flu shots, the state reported, including a high-dose vaccine for people 65 and older, a nasal spray vaccine for healthy people ages 2-49, and a vaccine with a smaller needle than regular flu shots.
This season’s flu vaccine protects against three different strains of flu virus, the state reports. It doesn’t protect against the newer H3N2 variant virus that is showing up in other parts of the country, which mostly have been from direct contact with pigs at county fairs. There are no reported cases of H3N2 in our state, according to the health department.
“Now’s the time to get a flu shot so you’re protected all season long,” said State Health Officer Dr. Maxine Hayes, in a prepared statement from the Washington State Department of Health. “Vaccine is the best protection we have against the flu. Getting it now, before people around you start getting sick, will protect you through the flu season, which usually peaks in January but starts earlier.”
Tips for not spreading flu:
- use good health manners
- wash your hands
- cover your cough
- stay home when you’re sick
Prices at Renton-area pharmacies average between $25 and $29 per shot. Some of the pharmacies that operate in major grocery stores also offer special incentives to flu shot customers, such as $10 coupons good elsewhere in the store.
Days and times shots are available at the pharmacies vary by location, so call ahead to get the specifics. Some pharmacies require appointments while others welcome walk-ins.
Here is a list of Renton-area pharmacies that provide flu shots. Click on the link for store hours and contact information:
CONTRIBUTE: How do you stay healthy through the flu season?