Deadliest flu season in decades

MEDFORD, Ore. — Of the 90,000 people tested for the flu in Oregon, over 19,000 tested positive.

That’s 8,000 more than the previous season.

Now, a startling report from the Centers for Disease Control has local health officials warning everyone to take precautions.

Jackson County Public Health says an estimated 80,000 Americans died from the flu last year including 180 kids.

That’s the most in at least four decades.

“The vaccine is still our number one prevention method that we have…,” said Tanya Phillips, Jackson County Public Health.

It’s an uphill battle during flu season for Phillips; Part of her job is educating those in Jackson County about the flu virus and the importance of getting vaccinated each year.

“They feel that they don’t get sick, so there’s no need to get the flu vaccine. Or if they get the flu, they’ll be okay…,” she said.

The CDC says 80 percent of the children who died from the flu last year were not vaccinated.

Phillips adds that Jackson County had one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state of Oregon, last year.

It’s one of the many reasons she recommends you to get a vaccine by the end of October.

“Not only does the vaccine prevent illness, it prevents people from if they do get sick…so the illness may not be as severe and they’re less likely to go to their doctor and end up in the hospital…,” she said.

Phillips says the vaccine not only protects you, but others around you who are more vulnerable to developing complications from flu viruses like the elderly and children.

Last year, 84 percent of the outbreaks in the state of Oregon were in long-term care facilities and 10 percent were in schools.

Oregon Health Authority reports the highest number of flu cases were in the months of December and January with over 19,000 flu cases reported in total for the duration of flu season.

It’s advised that you get your flu vaccine by the end of October since it takes 2 weeks to develop the antibodies to fight the virus.

Jackson County Public Health offers flu vaccines on site or you can head to your local pharmacy or primary care provider.

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