EVERETT — And now for some good news in the winter of virus mayhem.
The flu season has pretty much been cancelled this year.
“We were in the middle of the flu season a year ago,” said Dr. Yuan-Po Tu, infectious disease specialist at The Everett Clinic. “There is just literally no activity right now. It’s what we’re seeing through the entire state and the U.S.”
Tu said Snohomish County had four cases of influenza last fall, with zero flu activity since.
Last season, 11 people died from the flu in Snohomish County and 114 in the state. Most were seniors with underlying medical conditions. There have been no flu deaths in Washington reported for this 2020-21 season, which runs fall through spring.
The coronavirus hit as the last year’s flu season was winding down. Some people got both at the same time.
A flu shot can help avoid the double whammy. It is recommended for ages 6 months and older.
It’s not too late to get a shot, but adults who currently qualify for a COVID-19 vaccine might want to wait. The COVID-19 shot can’t be given if the person has had another vaccine within 14 days.
There is no shortage of flu vaccines. The state Department of Health is collaborating with Safeway and Albertsons to offer free flu shots to uninsured people over 18 at 23 locations, including stores on Rucker Avenue and Broadway in Everett. No driver’s license, proof of residency or immigration status is required.
Community and individual measures taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus had a role in the decrease of flu transmission this season.
Large gatherings are banned. Most schools are remote. People are social distancing and wearing masks.
Both infections are spread by droplets made when people cough, sneeze, talk or sing.
Hand washing, long preached to prevent the spread of flu, is now a way of life. Hand sanitizer is everywhere.
With COVID-19, the onset can be gradual, and people who are asymptomatic can spread the disease for longer periods.
Tests can determine whether it is flu or coronavirus.
In Snohomish County, nearly 500 people have died from COVID-19, and there have been over 4,440 fatalities statewide. The death toll in the United States has surpassed 450,000. The virus has infected 27,000 in the county and 26.5 million Americans.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated for the 2019-20 influenza season that 38 million were sick with the flu, 400,000 were hospitalized and 22,000 people died.
“COVID is much more contagious, especially with the variants,” Tu said.
Andrea Brown: firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.