KING COUNTY, Wash. - Public Health is reporting its first flu-related death of the season, saying it was an elementary-school-aged child from King County.
Health officials are saying that there is a rapid surge in cases of respiratory illness right now. They say the best way to prevent the flu from spreading is by getting vaccinated and staying home when sick. We are in the beginning weeks of flu season, which typically lasts several months, and officials are saying the time to take action is now.
According to a Wednesday press release, the child died from flu-related complications on Nov. 13. It was the first reported pediatric flu death in Washington State, and the first for King County since 2020. Officials are saying this year’s flu season started in October, which is much earlier than normal, and cases are only increasing.
"It’s tragic to lose a child to illness, and our hearts go out to this child’s family and loved ones," said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. "Flu hits young children especially hard, as well as people of any age with underlying medical conditions, pregnant people, and people over 65 years.
Hospitals are at overcapacity, and officials say it is because of this steep, unprecedented rise in respiratory viruses. As of Wednesday, the trend is primarily seen among children, and will likely continue in the coming weeks.
WHO IS MOST VULNERABLE?
- Young children
- Older adults
- Pregnant people
- People with underlying medical conditions
HOW TO PREVENT ILLNESS AND PROTECT OTHERS
- Get your flu shot and updated COVID-19 booster now. There is currently no vaccine for RSV.
- Flu shot: Everyone 6 months and older should get their flu shot annually.
- COVID Booster: Everyone ages 5 and older who have had their initial COVID-19 shot at least two months ago is eligible.
- Wash hands regularly.
- Wear a well-fitting mask when in indoor public spaces.
- If you are sick, even testing negative for COVID-19, stay home.
For more information from Public Health regarding vaccinations, hospitalizations and rising cases, you can visit their website here.