Flu spreads across Eastern Wash., 90 cases at local hospitals

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by SHAWN CHITNIS & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on January 7, 2014 at 6:23 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 7 at 7:01 PM

SPOKANE, Wash.--Health experts in the Spokane area said the flu season was coming on strong in January. They encouraged everyone to get the vaccine if they have not already.

The H1N1 strain of the flu is showing up across the country. Experts said because the 2013-2014 flu vaccine protects against H1N1 that everyone should get a shot.

There were 90 cases of the flu at local hospitals in Spokane County by early January.

Cases usually peak later in the year so leaders at the Community Health Association of Spokane said you still have time to get vaccinated.

“The season goes way into the spring so I'd recommend anybody who hasn't gotten it to go get it,” said Dr. William Lockwood.

Most of the cases in Spokane are related to the H1N1 strain. Doctors said that strain can keep you sick for at least a week.

"People are wiped out really quickly but five days later or so they tend to feel a lot better,” said Dr. Lockwood.

Doctors also point to the low cost for the flu shot. Most insurance policies cover the vaccine as preventative medicine or will ask for a small co-pay.

Places like the CHAS clinic will cover the cost if you do not have a provider.

"Anybody that isn't insured, we make up the difference so that they don't have to pay. We want to get everyone immunized,” said Dr. Lockwood.

Your insurance may pay for the medications you need to treat symptoms if you do get the flu. You could end up paying more than the cost of the shot though and you would likely miss a week of work or school before you recover.

Doctors said people often assume if they get sick after taking the flu shot that it did not work. They said that is not true and you most likely got something else besides the flu.

"It's a killed vaccine so it can't cause the flu when you get it,” said Dr. Lockwood.

The Spokane Regional Health District said there were no concerns of running out of the flu shot supply for children and adults in the Spokane area on Tuesday night.

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