Spokane Regional Health District announced today the season’s first local case of influenza. A recently-hospitalized female in her 50s, who was unvaccinated, tested positive for influenza A through laboratory testing.
Historically, Spokane’s first seasonal flu case is not typically seen until late fall. A confirmed case in mid-October indicates flu is beginning to circulate early in the community. In light of this, SRHD is reminding residents that getting a flu shot is the single best way for people to protect not only themselves against the flu, but their loved ones as well.
“This confirmed case is an opportunity for our community to rally around the importance of getting an annual flu shot,” said SRHD Health Officer Dr. Joel McCullough. “There is plenty of time and vaccine for anyone who wants to protect themselves from the flu."
Flu shots are available at numerous locations throughout Spokane County including health-care provider offices, local pharmacies and grocery stores.
Flu vaccine choices this year include:
- Quadrivalent vaccine -- These flu vaccines protect against four strains of influenza: two stains of influenza A and two strains of influenza B. Including a second strain of influenza B provides broader protection.
- Trivalent vaccine -- The traditional vaccine designed to protect against three different flu viruses: two A viruses and one B virus.
- Nasal spray vaccine -- This flu vaccine is sprayed into the nose and is approved for use in healthy people ages two through 49, who are not pregnant.
- Needle-free vaccine -- A new trivalent vaccine called Afluria is available. It uses a stream of fluid that goes through the skin and into the muscle. This vaccine is for persons 18 through 64.
- Egg-free vaccines -- Flu vaccines are traditionally cultured in eggs, but vaccines made from viruses grown in animal cells are also available. Health care providers may want to consider this vaccine for people with egg allergies.
- High-dose vaccines -- As people age, their immune systems weaken, which means the elderly benefit less than younger people from a standard flu shot. High-dose shots, approved for those ages 65 and over, include four times the usual level of immunity-producing proteins to provide more protection.
- Intradermal shots --These shots are designed for needle-phobic adults ages 18 to 64; they have shorter needles that penetrate just the skin, rather than traditional intramuscular shots.
Said Dr. McCullough, “For decades, we only had one type of flu vaccine. By giving people choices, the barriers that prevent some of them from getting vaccinated are removed. Since some vaccines are intended for certain groups, talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about the vaccine that is best for you.”
It's recommended that all people 6 months of age and older get immunized against flu. The vaccine promotes antibody protection within two weeks. The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.
Last flu season, 407 people were hospitalized due to flu in Spokane County and, unfortunately, 17 residents’ deaths were attributed to flu-related illness. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that from the 1976-1977 season to the 2006-2007 flu season, national flu-associated deaths ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.
For more information about influenza and influenza vaccine, visit cdc.gov/fluorsrhd.org.