King County health officials: It's time to think about getting a flu shot

SEATTLE -- King County Public Health is recommending people get shots before the end of October as flu season begins to pick up in the fall.

September seems like it’s way too early to talk about flu season, but health officials say it makes sense because, with colder weather, people are spending more time indoors and in close quarters.

King County Public Health says the flu actually spreads year-round and if there were more testing, then more cases would be discovered in off seasons.

The flu mist is back after it was considered ineffective over the last two seasons, and while it is available, the American Academy of Pediatrics and pharmacists say they recommend the shot over the flu mist for better protection.

“I always recommend the shot over the mist. In the past years, the flu mist hasn’t shown as great efficacy as the shot and if you’re going to get the shot you want to get one that’s going to be as efficacious as possible,” said Cynthia Ly, a pharmacist at Bartell Drugs.

For seniors 65 and older, they can ask for a higher dose vaccine shot for better protection.

It’s that age group and young kids that are generally hit the hardest with the flu each year.

“Last year 180 children died in the U.S., died from influenza. Most of those kids were not vaccinated. Thankfully, we didn’t have any child deaths in King County. We don’t want to have any this year,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, with King County Public Health.

The flu killed 44 people in King County last year, according to the health department. King, Pierce and Snohomish counties were hit the hardest last year in Western Washington.

Ly says she’s sees a handful of patients every day already coming in for the flu shot. Bartell Drugs and other pharmacies locally are already stocked with the flu vaccine. The flu shots starts to protect you after two weeks of receiving it.