SEATTLE — The 2022-2023 influenza season was the deadliest in five years with deaths increasing tenfold from the previous year, according to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH).
The DOH said Thursday that a total of 262 Washingtonians reportedly died from the flu between Oct. 1, 2022 and April 29, 2023. The total includes 257 adults and five children. During the 2021-2022 flu season, 26 people, including 25 adults and one child, reportedly died from the flu in Washington state.
Nationwide, 57,000 people reportedly died from the flu during the latest season, up from 5,000 in the previous year, with as many as 640,000 hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The increase in deaths for the latest flu season followed two seasons of unusually low flu activity, the DOH said.
“While respiratory illness precautions such as masking and social distancing helped keep the number of flu cases low during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s especially important now that most of us are around other people again to get a flu vaccine every year,” said Umair A. Shah, secretary of health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this year’s flu vaccine attributed to the reduced risk of hospitalization among children by nearly three-quarters and among adults by nearly half.
“The flu vaccine is your best protection against this serious disease. Even if you get the flu, if you’ve been vaccinated typically your illness is milder and you aren’t as likely to need to go to the hospital,” said Shah.
As of the DOH’s latest flu report on April 29, flu activity in the state is considered “minimal.” The DOH said flu activity peaked by the end of November 2022.
The DOH recommended these precautions to help protect people who are most likely to be affected by severe flu disease:
- People over age 65.
- People who are immunocompromised.
- Children under age five.
- Pregnant people.
- People with chronic health conditions.