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Immunization Action Coalition encourages residents to get flu shots

WASHINGTON — The Immunization Action Coalition is urging state residents to get their seasonal flu shots during what health officials say will be a challenging flu season.

To reduce to spread and impact of the seasonal flu and the H1N1 flu strain, the coalition is asking individuals to get vaccinated or take steps to reduce the spread of both flu viruses.

Each year, thousands of U.S. residents die or are hospitalized from the seasonal flu, according to the coalition.

This year, Washington state has additionally had 16 deaths and more than 150 hospitalizations related to the H1N1 virus this year.

An annual flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against seasonal flu, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

A new H1N1 vaccine is also available and can be administered to select individuals.

The coalition recommends the following groups receive the seasonal flu vaccine:

Children 6 months of age and older.

Pregnant women.

Individuals 50 years of age and older.

Individuals of any age with server illnesses or chronic medical conditions.

Individuals residing in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Individuals who reside or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including health care workers, household members or contacts of personas at high risk, household members or contracts and out-of-home caregivers of children too young to be vaccinate (6 months of age or younger).

Anyone who wants to protect themselves from the flu.

The Immunization Action Coalition also recommends residents follow several simple steps to prevent the spread of seasonal flu and the H1N1 flu viruses.

Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.

Frequent hand-washing with hot, soapy water, especially after coughing or sneezing.

Avoiding hand contact with your eyes, nose and mouth as this is how germs spread.

Avoiding close contact with others if you or they present symptoms of the flu.

For more information about seasonal flu vaccinations or the H1N1 flu, visit doh.wa.gov/cfh/immunize.

A list of Snohomish County H1N1 vaccination clinic locations is available at snocoflu.com.

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