SPOKANE, Wash. - The flu season has begun in Spokane County and those who have not been vaccinated are at higher risk.
"We have had 10 hospitalizations, but none critical so far," says Malia Nogle, an epidemiologist at the Spokane Regional Health District.
At this same time last year, there were nine individuals hospitalized with the virus compared to this year's ten. Health officials are less concerned about the flu's potential severity though because as opposed to last year when patients were more widely spread throughout the city, this year they have been concentrated in one area.
"So far this year we have seen diagnosed the type A virus, with the subtype of H3N2," said Nogle, "that strain was the particularly deadly one last year."
She says that so far this year, one man in his 40's has died of the flu in the state of Washington, which raises concerns because normally the virus hits children and the elderly the hardest.
"The best recommendation is to get your flu shot, get it now, get it early, there is plenty of vaccine available," said Nogle.
She says there is a large amount of misinformation out there about the vaccine and wants to clear things up.
"The vaccine is safe, it is one of the most tested vaccines we have, it is completely safe, it does not give you the flu, it is a weakened or dead virus and can't replicate in your body," she said.
The health district reports that of the 41 people who died in Spokane County last year from the flu and the more than 600 people who were hospitalized, roughly two thirds of them hadn't received the vaccine.
If you choose to go without receiving a vaccination and get sick, she asks to keep others in mind.
"If you are sick, stay home you don't want to expose anybody at work or school," she said.
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