influenza

Matt Rourk / AP Photo

With its latest update Friday, the Washington Health Department says there have been 11 flu deaths in the state this season.

Spokesman Marqise Allen says the number is not unusual, but the department urges everyone over the age of 6 months to have a vaccination. The swine flu has been the most common strain, and the current vaccine available covers the H1N1 virus.

Matt Rourke / AP Photo

Local health officials are urging people of all ages to get vaccinated against the flu, which has already claimed four lives in King County alone this season.

In addition to the deaths, the number of positive tests has doubled since mid-December, according to Dr. Jeff Duchin with Public Health – Seattle & King County. And this year's most prevalent strain, the H1N1 virus, is one that hits younger people especially hard.

USACE Europe District / Flickr

The flu season is winding down, and it has killed 105 children so far — about the average toll.

The season started about a month earlier than usual, sparking concerns it might turn into the worst in a decade. It ended up being very hard on the elderly, but was moderately severe overall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Associated Press

You may have heard this year’s flu shot is about 60% effective. To be precise, the official estimate is 62%, and it's based on research conducted partially at Group Health Cooperative in Washington.

What does that mean for you? How can someone use that information?

And, how did they arrive at a number like 62%?

CDC

Don’t be surprised if you notice a few co-workers are out sick, or if a stomach bug seems to be hitting your family. Winter is peak time for sharing germs – and right now, at least, most of those are NOT the flu bug.

For Lisa Steinbrueck of Seattle, it seemed at first like food poisoning:

Sarel Fleishman / U.W.

Seattle researchers have created a new way to fight the flu virus, and potentially pave the way for a new class of medicines.

You probably remember how the flu pandemic two years ago eventually included such a scramble to get the vaccine that people stood in long lines -- and even lied about the ages of their children to get it earlier. It takes months to make influenza vaccine, which has to be grown in chicken eggs. And every year the whole process has to start over, as the virus keeps mutating and evolving.