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  • 6 flu facts: Protect yourself with flu shot, nasal mist vaccine

    By Jennifer Rea

    Flu season is off to a slow start in Washington state, which means that people still have time to get vaccinated -- and avoid the long lines when people rush for vaccine as flu season peaks.

    Related story: "Debunking 6 myths about flu vaccine"

    Last winter, more than 40 Washington state residents died from influenza, including 19 in King County.

    To help sort out information about influenza, we talked to Sue Gustafson, Program Director of Infection Prevention for the MultiCare Health System.

    What is influenza?

    Influenza is a respiratory illness that mainly affects the nose, throat and lungs. The flu can be characterized by the following symptoms:

    • Fever or chills • Cough • Sore throat • Runny or stuffy nose • Muscle aches • Headaches • Fatigue • Vomiting and diarrhea (although mainly common in children only)

    What is the difference between a common cold and the flu?

    The common cold has very similar symptoms to the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They both infect the respiratory system, but originate from different viruses. It is often hard to tell the difference between a cold and the flu, but usually a cold has much milder symptoms.

    What is the difference between stomach flu and influenza?

    “Flu” is a vastly overused term that is mistakenly slapped onto anything from a cold to food poisoning. Gastrointestinal viruses that are recognized by diarrhea and vomiting are often confused with influenza. Nonetheless if you experience symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting in addition to fever and body aches you could have a very serious form of the flu. This is, however, more common in children than adults.

    Who is susceptible to getting the flu?

    It is a common misconception that only young children and elderly people need to get their flu shot. Although these groups have a higher risk of getting the flu they are not the only ones at risk for contracting the flu virus. Take this into account if you are a healthy adult not worried about experiencing the effects of influenza. According to the CDC, if you were to contract the virus you could spread the virus to others more susceptible to flu-related complications 1 day before you begin to have symptoms and up to 7 days after becoming sick. It is also very important for women who are pregnant to get the flu shot. When pregnant, women are at higher risk for more severe disease and should protect themselves by getting vaccinated.

    What treatment is there for fighting the flu?

    Despite the many herbal and natural remedies out there claiming to combat the miserable effects of the flu, researchers have found no clear connection between them and a faster recovery. There are, however, prescription influenza antiviral drugs that will fight the flu virus.

    Where can I get the flu vaccine?

    MultiCare Health System now is offering flu vaccines to patients at clinics in King and Pierce counties. Vaccines are available as shots, or as nasal mist for employees and pediatric patients.

    Flu vaccines are available at the following locations:

    Availability may vary by clinic, based on demand. To ensure availability of the type of vaccine you wish to receive, check with the location you plan to visit in advance.

    Posted on Nov 9, 2013 in