Fall is here, which means school, football and flu. Flu illness has begun circulating in Washington communities and flu vaccine is now widely available to protect everyone in the family.

“Getting vaccinated every year against the flu is essential to protecting yourself and your family from this very serious illness,” said Dr. Kathy Lofy, State Health Officer. “Flu vaccines to protect you this fall and winter are available at many pharmacies and healthcare providers. Everyone 6 months and older, even healthy teens and young adults, should get vaccinated.”

Flu is a highly contagious and serious disease that can cause moderate to severe illness, and can lead to hospitalization and even be fatal. Last flu season, 296 people in Washington died from influenza-related conditions; thousands were sickened, and thousands more were hospitalized.

Young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions and people 65 years and older are at higher risk from complications of flu. However, anyone can get flu, including healthy young people.

“Last year was one of the most severe flu seasons on record for Washington, and data just released shows only 61 percent of Washington children and teens were vaccinated. It’s important for us to protect each other this year. Flu vaccine is available everywhere. Don’t wait – get the vaccine for protection now,” Dr. Lofy added.

Washington provides all recommended vaccines at no cost for kids from birth through age 18, available through health care providers across the state. Providers may charge an office visit fee or a vaccine administration fee, however any family that can’t afford to pay can ask that the administration fee be waived.

For help finding a health care provider or an immunization clinic, or to learn the signs and symptoms of flu, visit KnockOutFlu.org. Weekly reports throughout flu season track flu activity in Washington. Influenza tests are not routinely reported to state health, however selected hospitals, labs and health care facilities voluntarily submit information to help monitor activity and impact in our state.

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