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

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

First flu death since 2020 reported in Snohomish County

Health officials recommended people get vaccinated against influenza and COVID-19

EVERETT — The county has had its first death from the flu since 2020.

A Bothell woman in her 70s died, according to Snohomish Health District.

“Unfortunately, this is likely to be the first of more cases to come,” Dr. James Lewis, the district’s health officer, said in a news release Tuesday. “In the southern hemisphere of the world, who have their flu season during our summer, we saw a resurgence of flu infections. We are likely to see the same here.”

Flu activity tends to start in October and run through spring, typically peaking between December and February.

The county’s flu death was before Oct. 2, the official start of the 2022-23 flu season, as set by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 2021-22 season ended Oct. 1.

The number of cases and deaths were low statewide in the last two flu seasons.

In the 2021-22 season, there were at least 22 flu deaths in Washington state. Most had underlying health conditions or were people 65 or older, the demographic traditionally hit hard.

“During the past two years, COVID has been in the forefront of everyone’s mind and has been the primary respiratory illness circulating,” Lewis said. “Because of all of our mitigation efforts to stop COVID from ravaging our community, other respiratory illnesses like the flu have remained quite low.”

Many people have gotten lax about measures such as masking, social distancing and hand washing.

The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months and older. The new COVID-19 bivalent booster, which provides better protection than the previous vaccine against the predominant variants such as omicron, are approved for those 12 and older. In most cases, both vaccinations can be given together.

It is possible to get both viruses at the same time.

Vaccines decrease the severity of illness and likelihood of hospitalization, said Dr. Yuan-Po Tu, infectious disease specialist for the Everett Clinic.

Shots are available at many pharmacies and clinics.

For more, go to vaccinefinder.org or call the Help Me Grow Washington hotline at 1-800-322-2588.

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

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