Local flu deaths reported

The first flu-related deaths in Pierce County and King County in the current influenza season were reported in November.

The deaths in Pierce County of a woman in her 60s and a man in his 60s, both with underlying health conditions, were attributed to flu. So was the death of a child in King County.

Flu activity is high across the state, according to public-health authorities who said the problem is compounded by a rise in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections and COVID-19 cases. Statewide and nationally, seriously sick children have been experiencing delays in getting hospital beds.

Officials said now is the time to protect yourself against the flu and other respiratory illnesses by getting vaccinated and staying home when sick.

Information about where to get vaccinations is available from Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department at at tpchd.org/flu and 253-649-1500, and Seattle-King County Public Health at kingcounty.gov and 206-296-4774. Vaccination locations are also available through the national vaccines.gov and 1-800-232-0233.

The death in King County was the first from flu since the 2019-20 flu season. But Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for the county, reminded that flu “hits young children especially hard, as well as people of any age with underlying medical conditions, pregnant people, and people over 65 years.” He added that “flu activity typically remains elevated for several months.”

With what officials are terming a bad 2022-23 flu season along with the risks of RSV and COVID-19, slowing the spread of respiratory can help preserve space in hospitals and life-saving resources for other serious medical situations.

In addition to vaccinations, ways to help reduce the chance of getting sick or infecting others include staying home when feeling ill, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or elbow, washing hands often, wearing a mask around people who are most at risk, and limiting time spent in childcare centers or other potentially contagious settings.