Flu season hasn’t started on Peninsula, health official says

PORT ANGELES — Flu season has yet to arrive on the North Olympic Peninsula, the Clallam County Board of Health learned this week.

“We’ve seen a very gradual increase in the number of flu cases in Washington state and the nation, although we still don’t consider ourselves officially to be in the flu season,” Dr. Tom Locke, public health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties, told the health board Tuesday.

“It’s just very gradually increasing, and this is mostly good news.”

Flu seasons that occur in March or April typically have a lower mortality rate than those that peak in January or February, Locke said.

Late flu seasons also are associated with less-serious complications.

Locke monitors influenza activity closely. One of his responsibilities is to declare the start of flu season on the Peninsula.

“We’re not quite there yet,” he said.

Hospitals and health care providers take extra precautions after the declaration is made to prevent transmission to patients.

Supplies of vaccine

Area pharmacies have ample stocks of this year’s flu vaccine, Locke said.

The vaccine takes about two weeks to kick in.

Dr. Jeanette Stehr-Green, health board member, asked if people who have not been vaccinated should bother getting a flu shot now.

“I would urge you to do it quickly if you’re not vaccinated,” Locke said.

“One bit of concern in terms of Washington state is flu is taking off in California.

“It does migrate up and down the West Coast, so that may be a harbinger of in the next couple weeks, we’ll be seeing more influenza activity in this state.”


Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-417-3537 or at rob.ollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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