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FILE: Cindy Andrews, registered nurse at Jefferson City Medical Group, gets an injectable flu vaccination prepared for a patient on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014 in Jefferson City, Missouri.
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FILE: Cindy Andrews, registered nurse at Jefferson City Medical Group, gets an injectable flu vaccination prepared for a patient on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014 in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Flu season in Washington is starting late, but may hit hard

Flu season in Washington is ramping up.

A national flu prediction model from Columbia University shows flu activity in the Seattle area could spike over the next four weeks. Dr. Jeffrey Duchin with Public Health Seattle and King County said the season is starting a little later than in previous years.

“It's about two to four weeks later than our more recent flu seasons going back to 2013-14. But the rate of rise of people developing influenza like illness suggests right now we're seeing the beginning of the flu season, which will probably last for a couple more months,” he said.

Duchin said it’s not too late to get the flu vaccine, which can take a couple of weeks to reach full effectiveness. The CDC recommends everyone six months and older get a flu shot.

UW Medicine Infection Control Medical Director Dr. John Lynch said community flu vaccination rates are around 30 percent.

“You can be transmitting flu before you even know it. But you're still transmitting to folks who can't afford to get it: That little baby, that older adult, that person with another medical problem like a lung problem or a heart problem. If that person gets it from you, they're outcome has much greater potential to be very bad,” Lynch said.

There have already been six flu-related deaths in Washington state so far this season. The state department of health reports 296 people died of the flu statewide between October 2017 and October 2018.

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