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Flu deaths rise to 40 in Washington state, vaccines urged

Charles Krupa
The Associated Press
Registered nurse Charlene Luxcin administers a flu shot to a patient at the Whittier Street Health Center in Boston, Mass., Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013.

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The flu is spreading at a high rate in Washington state with deaths at higher rates than are usually seen at this point in the season, according to health officials.

The Washington Department of Health said Tuesday that 40 people have died from the flu in Washington including three children, as of Dec. 10.

“We urge everyone aged 6 months and older to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Umair A. Shah, MD, Secretary of Health, said in a statement. “Getting your flu shot now helps to protect us all, especially as we plan to gather for holidays and events.”

The vaccines can help prevent severe illness, disease spread and hospitalizations in an already strained healthcare system, officials said.

The most common strain of flu seen so far this year is influenza A (H3N2), which typically causes more severe disease. The flu vaccines provide protection against that strain, officials said.

The flu vaccine is available at most pharmacies, health care provider offices, and clinics, and can be received at the same time as any other vaccine, officials said.

In addition to the flu, other respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19 and RSV are also making children and adults sick and overloading hospitals in the state.

Officials are also recommending that people get COVID-19 vaccines and boosters and consider wearing a mask in crowded indoor places.

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