Vaccinations encouraged in the face of the start of the flu season
SEATTLE — Doctors are bracing for a tough winter, according to a statement from the Washington State Medical Association. In separate press releases, the Washington Department of Health and the WSMA both advised Washington residents to get their flu shots.
The number of respiratory syncytial virus cases is rising sharply, especially among children, the statement said. Flu season has also arrived early this year, the WSMA wrote, and there is also a risk of an increase in COVID-19. Pediatric hospital beds are filling up quickly, the statement said, and sick children are being rushed to emergency rooms.
“Our state’s pediatric health system is overloaded with an extremely high number of children suffering from respiratory infections,” Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, scientific director of the health department, said in a department press release. . “Families urgently need to do all they can to keep everyone healthy and avoid the need for health care, and flu shots are one of the most important prevention tools.”
The WSMA urges anyone over the age of 6 months to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and influenza, the statement said. People over the age of 5 whose last COVID-19 vaccine was at least two months ago can get the updated booster. Flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be safely given at the same time, the statement said. The flu vaccine takes about two weeks to become effective once administered, according to the Washington Department of Health.
The WSMA also encourages Washingtonians to wash their hands frequently, try not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth, and wear a mask in crowded indoor situations. Since RSV is highly transmissible by touching contaminated surfaces, it is important to frequently disinfect high-touch surfaces in the home, the WSMA wrote.
Children who show moderate symptoms of illness, such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing, congestion, runny nose or sore throat, should not attend school or group activities, the statement said. Adults with symptoms should also stay home and contact their doctor for advice.
The hospital emergency room should only be used for very serious or life-threatening conditions, the WSMA wrote, and not for common illnesses or minor injuries. However, anyone with severe or life-threatening symptoms should call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
Additionally, the DOH recommends that everyone wash their hands frequently with soap and water, consider wearing a mask in crowded places, avoid close contact with sick people, sneeze or to cough into the crook of his elbow and to stay home if he feels sick. Additionally, the department said other respiratory diseases like COVID-19 and RSV are also straining the capacity of public hospitals.
This year’s strain is influenza A H3N2, which is covered by this year’s vaccine, the press release said. For more information on where to get a flu shot, visit the Department’s Influenza website at knockoutflu.org.