Category Archives: Vaccines

Measles update: WA case count grows to 12, extending to third county

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Kitsap County resident confirmed with measles; exposure likely in San Juan County

 

From the Washington State Department of Health:

Alert IconApril 11, 2014 - Measles continues to spread in Washington as cases in San Juan County have extended to a Kitsap County resident. A man in his 40s from Kitsap visited several places in Friday Harbor, including a restaurant where a contagious San Juan County man was at the same time.

San Juan County’s case count is now five, and Kitsap County has one. In Whatcom County, the case count remains at six.  Continue reading

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Another person with measles visited Seattle and Sea-Tac

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Alert Icon with Exclamation Point!From Public Health – Seattle & King County

Local public health officials have confirmed a measles infection in a traveler who was at Sea-Tac airport and two locations in Seattle during his contagious period.

The traveler is a resident of California and was likely exposed to the measles while on a flight with an earlier confirmed measles case on March 21, 2014.

Locations of potential exposure to measles

Before receiving the measles diagnosis, the traveler was in West Seattle and at Sea-Tac Airport.

Anyone who was at Sea-Tac Airport or the locations listed during the following times was possibly exposed to measles:

Seattle

  • Safeway, 9620 28th Ave SW, Sunday, March 30th, 4:00p.m.-8:00 p.m.
  • Marshalls, 2600 SW Barton Street, Sunday March 30th, 4:00p.m.-8:00 p.m.

Sea-Tac

  • Sea-Tac Airport, Monday, March 31st, 4:30p.m.-8:30p.m.: terminal B

If you were at one of the locations at the times listed above and are not immune to measles, the most likely time you would become sick is between April 7th and April 21st.

What to do if you were in a location of potential measles exposure  Continue reading

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Flu has hit young and middle-aged hard this winter – CDC

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Influenza viruses

Influenza viruses

Feb 20, 2014

The flu hit younger- and middle-age adults hard this season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Thursday.

While the elderly tend to be most vulnerable to influenza, a large majority of those hospitalized with the flu this season, 61%, were people age 18-64 — a big jump from what was seen during the past three flu seasons in which people from this age group made up only about 35 percent of hospitalizations.

Influenza deaths this season are following a similar pattern, with people 25 years to 64 years of age accounting for about 60 percent of flu deaths compared with 18 percent, 30 percent, and 47 percent for the three previous seasons.   Continue reading

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It’s still not too late to get your flu shot

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A Consumer Update from the FDA

February 4, 2014

Flu shot todayMeant to get vaccinated in the fall to ward off the flu, but somehow didn’t get around to it?

Think it’s too late to get vaccinated now?

Not so. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), vaccinations can be protective as long as flu viruses are circulating.

And while seasonal flu outbreaks can happen as early as October, flu activity usually peaks in January or February, and can last well into May.  Continue reading

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5 fast facts about this year’s flu season — CDC

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Digitally-colorized image of a collection of influenza A virions. The predominant influenza A virus this year is H1N1 - CDC photo

Digitally-colorized image of a collection of influenza A virions. The predominant influenza A virus this year is H1N1.

From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Here are some things to know about the 2013-2014 flu season so far and steps you can take to protect yourself from flu.  Continue reading

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Flu widespread across state, nine confirmed deaths

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H1N1 viruses

H1N1 viruses

Flu is now widespread across the state and has caused at least nine flu deaths in Washington state since December, the Washington State Department of Health reported Wednesday.

It is likely the number flu deaths is higher because only laboratory confirmed cases must be reported to the state and in many cases laboratory testing is not done, health officials said.  Continue reading

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Flu virus - courtesy of NAIAD

Flu widespread in King County, young adults more vulnerable

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From Public Health – Seattle & King County

Seasonal flu widespread in King County, young adults more vulnerable than usual 

Now is the time to get vaccinated

If you’ve noticed more people are sick at work or at school, it might be the flu.  Infections are on the rise locally, as seasonal influenza has gone from barely detectable levels in early December to widespread in King County.

“It’s easy to get complacent about the flu, since we see it every year, but it brings real hardship and dangers,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Chief of Communicable Disease Epidemiology & Immunization for Public Health – Seattle & King County.  “Catching the flu can not only disrupt your life, it can be severe enough to send you to the hospital.”

Two noteworthy aspects of this year’s flu season:

  • Younger adults face a greater risk of severe illness than usual. 

    Locally and across the US, healthcare providers are reporting an increase in severe influenza infections – requiring intensive hospital care for young and middle-age adults.

    The predominant strain circulating currently is influenza A H1N1, which happens to be the same one that led to the 2009 flu pandemic.

    This virus causes infections and severe illness in all ages, but compared to other influenza strains, it causes higher rates of illness and death among young and middle-age adults, including those with no underlying health conditions.

  • Pregnant women should get vaccinated at any stage of pregnancy.

    The flu vaccine is both safe and effective for pregnant women, including during the first trimester.

    Vaccinating during pregnancy protects not only the mother but the fetus and child as well. Newborn infants can’t be vaccinated until they’re six months old.

Anyone who lives with or cares for an infant younger than six months should also get vaccinated to protect the infant from getting flu.

Other members of the community at increased risk for severe influenza include the elderly and people who have long-term health problems, like diabetes, asthma, and heart or lung problems.

Flu vaccine is the best protection; other drugs also available

The flu vaccine is in plentiful supply, and it’s not too late to get vaccinated to reduce your chances of getting the flu.  Influenza activity generally peaks in January or later in our region and continues circulating until spring.

“Anyone six months and older who has not yet been vaccinated this season should get an influenza vaccine now to reduce their risk of illness,” said Duchin.

Another important line of protection is antiviral drugs, especially for people with severe influenza or at high risk of complications. Antiviral treatment should be started promptly if you are pregnant or in a high-risk group and develop flu symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches.

Where to get flu vaccine

Flu vaccine (shots and nasal spray) is available at many healthcare provider offices and pharmacies for those who have insurance or are able to pay for vaccination. Visit http://flushot.healthmap.org to help find locations.

If you don’t have insurance, you can find free or low-cost insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder. Other immunization assistance is available through the Family Health Line at 800-322-2588.

For more information, visit www.kingcounty.gov/health/flu

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Flu spreading rapidly in Snohomish County, health officials warn

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Influenza viruses

Influenza viruses

From the Snohomish Health District:

Influenza is spreading rapidly in Snohomish County.  Local health providers report a significant uptick in positive flu tests in the past two weeks, and many of the sick are people younger than 65. Seven local people died of the flu during last year’s flu season.

The predominant strain nationally so far is H1N1, the same kind of virus that sickened much of the nation in 2009. During the 2009 pandemic, younger adults and children, particularly people with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women, were harder hit by H1N1 compared with adults age 65 and older. The same pattern could emerge this year if H1N1 circulates widely.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report some severe illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths from H1N1 to date in the 2013-2014 flu season.

Three Washington state residents have died from flu so far this season (not in Snohomish County), and three have been hospitalized.

These severe flu outcomes are a reminder that flu can be a very serious disease for anyone, including young, healthy adults.

Visit www.flu.gov for more information about flu, and www.doh.wa.gov for statewide updates.

Flu activity in Snohomish County historically peaks in February or later. Last flu season, the deaths of seven people in Snohomish County were attributed to flu-related illness.

In the United States, over a recent 30-year period, the CDC reports that the flu was linked to thousands of deaths each year — ranging from 3,000 to 49,000.

The vaccine for this current flu season is available at medical providers and pharmacies throughout the county and will protect against three or four kinds of influenza virus — including H1N1 — that make people sick.

Washing hands, covering your coughs, and staying home when you are sick are effective ways to reduce spreading and getting diseases. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and others.

Everyone 6 months and older should get a shot every year, since the flu vaccine changes to match the most common illnesses. Flu shots do not contain live virus — getting the flu from this vaccine is not possible. 

The flu vaccine is strongly recommended for people who are

  • 6 months old — up to their 19th birthday
  • 50 years and older
  • age 6 months and older with certain chronic health conditions
  • pregnant and in any trimester
  • living in long-term care facilities
  • living with or caring for those at high risk for complications from the flu
  • health care personnel
  • household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of infants age 0-6 months (who are too young to receive vaccine)

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Extreme fatigue

Flu viruses spread when people with flu expel droplets from their mouths or noses while coughing, sneezing or talking. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby.

People can also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or nose. A person can spread flu before they know they’re sick and up to seven days after. Children can spread it for even longer.

Again, the best way to avoid getting or spreading the flu is to get a flu shot, and also washing hands, covering coughs and staying home if sick.

If an individual is already sick with the flu, antiviral medications can lessen symptoms and help prevent serious complications. They work best when started quickly. It’s also important to stay away from others for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.

The Snohomish Health District’s clinics in Everett and Lynnwood are stocked full of vaccine to protect you against the flu. The cost for an adult flu shot at the Snohomish Health District is $30. A flu shot for a child costs $15.

The Health District accepts payment by cash, check, VISA, MasterCard, Provider One (coupons), and Medicare for clients whose primary insurance is not with an HMO. Clients may apply for a reduced fee, based on income and household size.

Snohomish Health District clinic hours – shots by appointment only:

SHD Everett Immunization Clinic, 3020 Rucker Ave, Suite 108, Everett, WA 98201

  • Call 425.339.5220 for an appointment: 8 a.m.- 4 p.m., Mon-Wed-Fri; closed on weekends & holidays

SHD Lynnwood Immunization Clinic, 6101 200th Ave SW, Lynnwood, WA 98036

  • Call 425.775.3522 for an appointment: 8 a.m.- 4 p.m., Tue & Thu; closed on weekends & holidays
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How to protect yourself from the flu – Tips from Healthfinder.gov

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Flu virus - courtesy of NAIAD

Flu virus – courtesy of NAIAD

The Basics

Everyone age 6 months and older needs to get a flu shot (vaccine) every year. The seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others from the flu.

For many people, the seasonal flu is a mild illness. But for some people, the flu can lead to:

  • Serious infections like pneumonia (“noo-MOHN-yah”)
  • Hospitalization
  • Death

The flu spreads easily from person to person. When you get the flu shot, you don’t just protect yourself – you also protect everyone around you.

What is the flu?
The flu is caused by a virus that infects your nose, throat, and lungs. It’s easily spread from person to person.

Symptoms of the flu include:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle aches

Am I at high risk for complications from the flu?
For some people, the flu is more likely to lead to serious illness. If you are at high risk from the flu, get a flu shot as early as you can each year.

Groups at high risk from the flu include:

If you spend time with someone at high risk from the flu, you can protect both of you by getting a flu shot.

When do I need to get the seasonal flu shot?
Get the flu shot as soon as it’s available in your community each year. After you get the vaccine, your body takes about 2 weeks to develop protection against the flu. That’s why it’s a good idea to get the vaccine before flu season starts.

Flu season is different from year to year. It can start as early as October and last as late as May.

Can I get the nasal (nose) spray instead of the shot?
The flu vaccine can be given in a nasal spray or a shot. You may get the nasal spray if you:

  • Are between ages 2 and 49
  • Aren’t pregnant
  • Don’t have certain health conditions, like asthma or diabetes

Are there any side effects from the seasonal flu vaccine?
Some people may have mild side effects. These side effects begin soon after the vaccine is given and usually last 1 to 2 days. Most people don’t have any side effects after getting the flu vaccine.

Flu shot
People who get the flu shot sometimes feel sore where they got the shot. You can’t get the flu from the flu shot because it’s made from killed flu viruses.

Flu nasal spray
People who get the nasal spray may have a stuffy nose or headache afterward. The flu viruses in the nasal spray are weakened and can’t cause the flu.

Take Action!

You can get a flu shot at your doctor’s office or clinic. You may also be able to get a flu shot from your local health department, pharmacy, or employer.

Find a flu clinic near you.
Use this flu clinic locator  to find out where you can get a flu shot near you.

What about cost?
The seasonal flu vaccine is covered under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010. Depending on your insurance plan, you may be able to get the flu vaccine at no cost to you.

Check with your insurance provider to find out what’s included in your plan. For information about other services covered by the Affordable Care Act, visit HealthCare.gov.

If you have Medicare Part B, your flu shot is free.

Fight the flu.
Getting the flu vaccine is the most important step in protecting yourself from the flu. Here are some other things you can do to keep from getting and spreading the flu:

  • Stay away from people who are sick with the flu.
  • If you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand rub (hand sanitizer).
  • Try not to touch your nose, mouth, or eyes.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
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tacuin women

Women’s Health – Week 10: Cervical cancer and HPV

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Human Papilloma Virus

Human Papilloma Virus

From the Office of Research on Women’s Health

HPV is a virus that infects your genital region and can cause warts or even cancer. More than 30 types of genital human papillomavirus (HPV) can infect the genital areas of both women and men, including the vulva (area outside the vagina), anus, and the linings of the vagina, cervixrectum, and skin of the penis.

Most HPV infections go away on their own within a year or two. But persistent HPV infections are now recognized as the major cause of cervical cancer and other less common cancers, such as cancers of the vulva, vagina, anus, and penis.

Studies have also found that oral HPV infection is also a strong risk factor for oropharyngeal cancer (cancer of the throat and tongue).

Genital HPV infections are common and are passed from one person to another through sexual contact. The virus infects the skin and mucous membranes. Most people with HPV do not develop symptoms or health problems.

That is why it is very important for women to have regular Pap smear tests to screen for cervical cancer even if they have received an HPV vaccine. The Pap smear can identify abnormal or pre-cancerous changes in the cervix that a health care provider can remove before cancer develops.

HPV Vaccine
A vaccine can now protect females from the four types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers and genital warts. The vaccine is recommended for 11- and 12- year-old girls. It is also recommended for girls and women ages 13 to 26 who have not yet been vaccinated or completed the vaccine series. Vaccination against HPV is available also for boys and men, ages 9 to 26, for prevention of genital warts. Talk to your health care provider for more information.

The types of HPV that can cause cancer are not the same as the types that can cause genital warts. Genital warts usually appear as small bumps or groups of bumps. They can be raised or flat, single or multiple, small or large, and sometimes cauliflower shaped. They can appear on the vulva, in or around the vagina or anus, on the cervix, and on the penis, scrotum, groin, or thigh.

Warts may appear within weeks or months after sexual contact with an infected person or they may not appear at all (even if the person is infected with HPV). If left untreated, genital warts can go away, remain unchanged, or increase in size or number.

Protect yourself
Scientists have shown that condom use may protect you against HPV infection. Condom use has been associated with a lower rate of cervical cancer.

for more information: www.cancer.gov

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Public Health – Seattle & King County offers free flu shot clinics – Saturday, Nov. 2nd

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Flu virus - courtesy of NAIAD

Public Health – Seattle & King County is offering free flu vaccination clinics on Saturday, November 2 to make flu vaccine more widely available to people without health insurance or who are unable to pay.

“Flu vaccine offers the single best protection against the flu,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Chief of Communicable Disease Epidemiology & Immunization for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “Getting vaccinated is especially important for pregnant women, people in contact with infants who are too young to vaccinate, and also to people with health conditions that put them at greater risk for severe illness and hospitalization.”

Health experts recommend flu vaccine for all people six months and older, especially for pregnant women and people who have long-term health problems, like diabetes, asthma, and heart or lung problems.

Anyone who lives with or cares for an infant younger than six months should also get vaccinated to protect the infant from getting flu.

Where to get free vaccine

The free flu vaccination clinics will be held at Public Health Centers at the following locations on Saturday, November 2 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.:

Columbia Public Health Center

4400 37th Ave S, Seattle, 206-296-4650

Eastgate Public Health Center

14350 SE Eastgate Way, Bellevue, 206-296-4920

Federal Way Public Health Center

33431 13th Place S, Federal Way, 206-296-8410

Renton Public Health Center

3001 NE 4th St., Renton, 206-296-4700

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Polio eradication within out reach – Infographic from the CDC

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Description of Infographic

The Time to Eradicate Polio is Now.

  • Worldwide in 2012, there were 223 polio cases in 3 endemic countries. Worldwide in 1988, there were 350,000 polio cases in 125 endemic countries.
  • Year and Polio Cases:
    1988: 350,000
    1989: 261,000
    1990: 233,000
    1991: 134,000
    1992: 137,000
    1993: 76,000
    1994: 73,000
    1995: 60,000
    1996: 33,000
    1997: 18,000
    1998: 10,000
    1999: 10,000
    2000: 4,000
    2001: 548
    2002: 1,922
    2003: 784
    2004: 1,258
    2005: 2,033
    2006: 2,022
    2007: 1,387
    2008: 1,732
    2009: 1,782
    2010: 1,409
    2011: 650
    2012: 223
  • Children still need to be vaccinated against polio. If we were to stop our current vaccination efforts, within a decade we would see a resurgence of polio that could paralyze more than 200,000 children worldwide every year.
  • Since 1988, polio vaccine has prevented more than 10 million cases of paralysis.
  • Since 1988, more than 500,000 deaths from polio have been prevented.
  • The economic benefits of polio eradication are $40-50 billion through the year 2035 – over 80% of these savings will be in developing countries.
  • The net benefit of other services such as vitamin A delivery alongside polio vaccination: up to $90 billion in additional savings and the prevention of up to 5.4 million child deaths.
  • Polio eradication is within our reach. It will save money. It will prevent disability. It will save lives.
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Time to get flu vaccine is now, say state health officials

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Flu virus - courtesy of NAIAD

Flu virus – courtesy of NAIAD

From the Washington State Department of Health

Flu season is almost here and the time is now to get vaccinated to protect yourself, your family, and your community from the flu, says the Washington State Department of Health.

“Flu seasons are unpredictable, so it’s important to get your flu vaccine as soon as it’s available, before people start getting sick,” says State Health Officer Dr. Maxine Hayes. “Getting flu vaccine now will provide protection throughout the season. It’s not too early.”

Yearly flu vaccination is recommended for everyone age six months and older. It’s especially important for young kids; pregnant women; people 65 and older; caregivers; and people with medical conditions, like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and neurological conditions.

Vaccine is already available from many health care providers, including pharmacies, and there are more vaccine options this year than ever before.

The vaccine is available as a flu shot or nasal spray. Some vaccines will protect against four different strains of flu virus; there’s an egg-free version for those with allergies; and a vaccine that uses a smaller needle than the typical flu shot. Ask your health care professional which vaccine is best for you and your family.

The Healthy People 2020 goal for flu vaccination coverage is 80 percent or higher. Only about 47 percent of people in Washington were vaccinated against flu last season so there’s work to be done. Communities are better protected from flu if vaccination rates are higher.

The state health department bought more than 754,000 doses of flu vaccine for kids through age 18. Kids can get the vaccine from their regular health care providers. Kids under nine years old may need two doses for the best protection.

Health professionals may charge an office visit fee and an administration fee to give the vaccine. People who can’t afford the administration fee can ask to have it waived.

For adults, many health plans cover flu vaccines. To find a health care provider or immunization clinic, use the flu vaccine locator, contact your local health agency, or the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588. Information about flu and flu vaccine is available on the Department of Health website.

This year, the Department of Health is using a video that features real families reminding people to get a yearly flu vaccine. The video also features the Secretary of Health, John Weisman.  It’s on the agency’s flu resource page.

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