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Deadly flu season kills 8 in Snohomish County

SEATTLE — Three more adults have died from the flu in Snohomish County, bringing the total to eight this flu season. At least 50 have been hospitalized.

The winter season also means flu cases nationally and in Washington state surged between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Doctors say this year’s flu strain tends to be hardest on the elderly, especially people over the age of 65 and those with weak immune systems, as well as children under the age of two.

“You can go from having flu to pneumonia to being a very serious situation especially if you’ve had pneumonia before, so we certainly advise everyone to take the flu shot,” said Claire Petersky, executive director of the Wallingford Community Senior Center.

The effectiveness of the flu shot changes every year, and this year doctors say it’s not quite as effective as in years past. However, the CDC is still urging anyone six months or older to get the flu shot. The CDC says when getting the flu shot, opt for the actual shot and not the nasal spray for the best benefits.

“There is year to year added benefit of getting flu shot,” said Dr. Ari Gilmore with Pacific Medical Centers.

Gilmore says every year the vaccine is reformulated so getting each new flu shot builds immunity over time to various strains.

The flu shot is not intended to keep people from getting the flu, but rather help make symptoms less severe if you do get the flu.

Adults can spread the flu up to seven days after getting the initial symptoms and children can be contagious well past the one-week mark.

Doctors say do no go to the emergency room if you do get the flu, instead go to the doctor’s office where they can quickly do a test to determine whether you have the flu or just a cold and it will keep your germs from spreading to more people.