Flu continues to pummel Inland Northwest hard

SPOKANE, Wash. - Flu season vo

A deadly flu continues to sweep across the United States and new numbers from the Spokane Regional Health District show it's continuing to get worse.

The flu has already killed three people in Spokane County and 19 statewide.

Hospitalizations have also jumped this season. In Spokane County, 21 people were hospitalized in the last week for a total of 156 hospitalizations this flu season compared to just 50 hospitalizations at this time last year.

This year the predominant strain of flu circulating the inland northwest is H1N1, also known as the swine flu, the same virus that caused an epidemic during the 2009-2010 flu season.

This year's flu vaccine does include the H1N1 strain so if you did get a vaccine you are protected against it. If you been vaccinated yet there's still time.

"It's definitely not too late to get a flu shot, people should definitely get a flu shot as soon as possible, that's the best protection against the flu," Joel McCullough with the Spokane Regional Health District said.

Typically, the flu hits the elderly and kids under five the hardest but this year that's not the case. In Spokane County people in their 40s and 50s are getting severe cases of the flu.

Health officials say just because you are healthy and relatively young doesn't mean you are immune. Besides getting a flu vaccine there are other things you can do to protect yourself and others such as wash your hands, cover your cough and if you're sick, stay home.