KING COUNTY, WA - Starting today, the public can go online to get the latest information on the flu in King County.
The new Flu Season Update web page -- located at www.kingcounty.gov/health/flu -- gives the public and health care providers regularly updated information on influenza surveillance in King County as well as updates on the availability of influenza vaccine at Public Health clinics. There will be links to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's national influenza surveillance data as well.
"This website gives King County health care providers and residents another way to access current, accurate, and clear information on influenza activity in King County and vaccine availability at Public Health clinics," said King County Executive Ron Sims.
"At the present time, Public Health has confirmed no cases of influenza in King County," said Dr. Alonzo Plough, Director of Public Health - Seattle & King County. "Only a few sporadic cases have been reported elsewhere in the United States, which is typical for this time of year."
Flu season in King County normally begins in January or February.
"We are continually on the lookout for influenza cases in the area," added Plough. "When we receive indication of a significant number of cases, Public Health will notify the public and local health providers."
Production delays have caused late delivery of about half of the area's shipments of vaccine this flu season. Despite the delays, many health care providers in King County have some supply now, and full supply should be available by the end of December.
Currently, Public Health is providing influenza vaccine only to high-risk individuals in November. Vaccine should be available for all in December.
"Public Health asks that health care providers prioritize their use of initial influenza vaccine supplies to be sure that people who need the vaccine most get vaccinated," said Plough. "People who are not in the high-risk groups should plan on getting their flu shot in late November or December, and it is still beneficial to get a flu shot in January or February."
The highest priority for vaccination is people at high risk of complications if they get influenza disease, their family members, and health care workers. Specifically, this includes:
- everyone age 65 years and older;
- anyone age six months and older who has asthma, chronic heart or lung disease, diabetes mellitus, kidney disease or immune suppression;
- children on long-term aspirin therapy;
- pregnant women who will be at least 14 weeks pregnant during influenza season;
- health care workers, and;
- family members of those at risk of flu complications.
Persons at high risk for influenza-related complications may also need immunization against pneumococcal pneumonia. The vaccine to protect against pneumococcal disease is usually only needed once in a lifetime, and is recommended for people over age 65, or who have certain chronic illness or immune deficiencies, are residents of long term care facilities, or are certain Native American/Alaskan Native populations. Consult your doctor, nurse or clinic.
More information on influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia immunizations can be found on the Public Health website at www.kingcounty.gov/health/flu.
Additional information about influenza vaccine availability is also available from the American Lung Association's Flu Hotline (206-441-5100, ext. 83) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website at www.cdc.gov.