20 flu deaths so far in Wash. state as peak season starts

Washington state health officials are warning people to get their flu shots as hospitals see a spike in cases. Snohomish County reported five flu-related deaths in just one week. (Photo: KOMO News)

EDMONDS, Wash. - The Washington State Department of Health is warning everyone it's not too late to get a flu shot, as hospitals see a spike in flu cases.

In Snohomish County, the health district said five people have already died from the flu.

Officials said it’s unusual for people to die from the flu this soon, even though we're entering the typical peak of the flu season - which runs from January until March.

Health officials said a Bothell man in his late-80s died from the flu in early December. Four more people died from the flu between December 21-28, including an Everett woman in her early-70s, a woman in her late-80s and a woman in her early-90s both from unincorporated Snohomish County, and an Edmonds man in his late-40s.

Health district officials said they all had underlying health conditions.

Doctors and experts said now is the time to protect yourself.

“They're somebody's mother, father, grandmother, grandfather so we want to make sure we're keeping people healthy,” said Heather Thomas with the Snohomish Health District.

“It's not too late to get your flu shot, it hurts for a few seconds but it really is the best prevention we have against flu," said Thomas. " And make sure your loved ones are protected, talk to your health care provider if you're not sure which vaccine is not right for you."

Statewide, 20 people have died from the flu this season and 16 outbreaks have been reported in long-term care facilities.

Health officials said last year was their worst flu season in nearly a decade with 45 flu deaths.

Washington State DOH said last flu season 278 people in Washington were confirmed to have died from influenza.

Everyone six months of age and up is recommended to get a flu shot according to the Washington State DOH. Flu can be especially dangerous for pregnant women, young children, people age 65 and older.

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