Flu Starts to Creep Up in Northwest

By Steve Jackson

We are hearing more cases of influenza in the Inland Northwest, but it’s till not too late to get a flu shot. The flu can affect people differently, but in some cases can be a severe health threat.
Last year in the US, 169 pediatric deaths were attributed to influenza. Locally last flu season, 152 people were hospitalized due to flu in Spokane County and two residents’ deaths were attributed to flu-related illness.

This year, health officials say the most prevalent virus is H1N1, or swine flu, that swept actress the nation back in 2009. It is disproportionately affecting young and middle-aged adults.

Flu Immunizations have been available since October, but Dr. Daniel Jernigan of the Centers for Disease Control says the flu season has yet to peak, and you can still get immunized in time for protection.

Jernigan: “It starts around this time of year taking off, and then peaks late jan or feb, last years was a very severe season, and as it starts we recommend people getting their vaccine, but we also recommend getting it you haven’t gotten it.”

For the first time ever, the flu vaccine is now quadravalent, meaning it is designed to protect against four different types of flu virus. The swine flu virus is one the types targeted by this years vaccine.

Dr Jernigan says the CDC estimates that last years vaccine prevented 6.6 million cases, and 80 thousand hospitalizations in the US.
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