Washington state experiences deadliest flu season in 5 years
May 12, 2023, 10:24 AM | Updated: 12:39 pm
Flu season in Washington state was the deadliest in five years, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Two-hundred sixty-two people died in Washington in 2022, a tenfold increase from 2021.
In Washington state, flu activity rose at the end of October and peaked by the end of November. As of the end of April, there was only minimal flu activity.
Nationwide, the CDC says 57,000 flu deaths occurred between Oct. 1 – April 29, 2023.
“While respiratory illness precautions such as masking and social distancing helped keep the number of flu cases low during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s especially important now that most of us are around other people again to get a flu vaccine every year,” Health Secretary Umair A. Shah said. “The flu vaccine is your best protection against this serious disease. Even if you get the flu, if you’ve been vaccinated, your illness is milder, and you aren’t as likely to need to go to the hospital.”
The CDC said there were as many as 640,000 flu hospitalizations nationally.
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Officials blame the decrease on fewer people getting a flu shot. Despite vaccine effectiveness, flu vaccination rates have decreased nationally in certain groups. Rates for children dropped more than 6%, and rates for pregnant people decreased by nearly 15% compared with pre-pandemic rates.
The Health Department recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months and older. If you are 65 or older, talk to your doctor first.
Some people who get the flu vaccine may still get sick. If you get the flu, the vaccine will help reduce the severity of your illness. It will also lower your chance of needing to go to the hospital.
Practicing healthy habits such as frequently washing hands, staying home when sick, and wearing masks in crowded spaces also help prevent the spread of the flu. These precautions protect people in our community who are most likely to be affected by severe flu disease, including:
- People over age 65.
- People who are immunocompromised.
- Children under age five.
- Pregnant people.
- People with chronic health conditions.