Flu season gets head start in Spokane, along with unusual flu strain

Flu season decided to come a little earlier this year.

Typically, we start seeing the flu in December. The Spokane Regional Health District said flu hospitalizations began in October.

Coughing, sneezing, fever, and chills. They’re all signs that point to the flu. In November, Spokane saw a different type of flu than we normally see this time of year.

“We saw a lot of influenza B, which is almost two-thirds of what we’ve seen so far,” said Mark Springer with the Spokane Regional Health District.

Influenza A generally occurs during the beginning of flu season and peaks around December to January.

There are two types of influenza A that are administered in the vaccine. One helps the elderly and very young, and one helps the younger working population.

When it comes to influenza B, symptoms are usually the same as influenza A, but it’s seen later in the season around February or March. Symptoms are usually less severe with influenza B.

“The influenza A typically has more issues in terms of mortality with that because it hits those high risk groups in terms of seniors and the very young,” said Springer.

That’s not to say that influenza B shouldn’t be taken seriously.

“It can still result in hospitalizations, and we’ve seen a fair amount currently,” Springer said.

Twenty four hospitalizations to be exact. While flu season may have come early this year, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to end sooner than expected.

“What’s going to happen in January or February when flu season starts to really peak is unknown right now,” said Springer.

However, there are things you can do to protect yourself.

Right now is the perfect time to get your flu shot. The vaccine protects against both influenza A and B.

It takes about a week to kick in and is typically between 40% to 60% effective.