Everett resident Shon Grimes receives a flu shot from pharmacist Nisha Mathew at Bartell Drugs on Broadway on Oct. 1, in Everett. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Everett resident Shon Grimes receives a flu shot from pharmacist Nisha Mathew at Bartell Drugs on Broadway on Oct. 1, in Everett. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Already, worst flu season in years has claimed 3 in Snohomish County

Statewide, 13 people have died, including two children, from the flu this season.

EVERETT — Snohomish County has three reported flu deaths this season.

So far.

Hospitalizations for influenza are rising sharply in what is already the worst flu season in three years.

This comes at a time when RSV cases have surged in children and other respiratory viruses are circulating.

“This year’s flu season is very early even by pre-pandemic standards. The speed with which cases are increasing is on par with other severe flu seasons in the past,” Dr. James Lewis, Snohomish Health District health officer, said in a statement on Monday.

The latest flu deaths last week were a man in his 40s and a woman in her 70s, both of Everett. A Lynnwood woman in her 20s died in November.

A Bothell woman in her 70s died earlier this fall, before the official start of the 2022-23 season. She was the county’s first death from the flu since 2020.

Flu activity is considered “very high,” according to the Washington State Department of Health.

Statewide, there were 13 flu deaths as of Nov. 26 this season. Of these, 11 were adults and two were children.

The county’s Influenza Surveillance Report for the week ending Nov. 26 shows the percentage of hospital visits for influenza-like illnesses was roughly 10 times higher than the same period in 2021 and 2020 in the district.

COVID-19 activity is expected to increase and RSV already has hospital beds at or above capacity.

“This comes at a time when our healthcare system is incredibly strained, particularly the pediatric healthcare system,” Lewis said. “It is incredibly important for all of us to take appropriate precautions to prevent the spread of viruses at this time, including staying up to date with flu and COVID vaccines, wearing a mask when you are in crowded indoor areas, and staying home when you are sick.”

People 6 months and older can get a flu shot. Vaccination reduces the likelihood of severe illness, hospitalization and death.

Flu and COVID shots are readily available at most pharmacies and clinics.

Recent flu seasons were light due to pandemic measures such as masking, disinfecting, distancing and quarantining.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, in the 2018-19 season there were 26 flu-related deaths in the county, 40 deaths in 2017-18 and 45 deaths in 2016-17.

“In particular given the strain on our pediatric healthcare system and the high levels of transmission in our younger population, please consider wearing a mask while at school during this time of high transmission,” Lewis said. “Also, please avoid emergency or urgent care if you are able to safely care for yourself or your family members at home. There are resources to help you care for sick children at home and help you determine if seeking healthcare support is appropriate for your situation.”

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @reporterbrown.

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