A man in his 60s who died Monday was Pierce County’s first influenza-related fatality of this season, according to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.
The man had chronic medical conditions that increased his risk of complications from the virus, according to a department news release Thursday.
Eight people were hospitalized last week because of the virus, an increase from three during the week ending Nov. 19.
In the 2015-16 flu season, 15 people died in Pierce County because of flu-related illnesses, and 25 people died of flu-related illnesses in 2014-15.
“People may have concerns about the current mumps outbreak, but each year the flu makes far more people sick and can result in death,” Matthew Rollosson, a health department nurse epidemiologist, said in the release. “Getting an annual flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and those around you from the flu.”
The Health Department recommends all people older than 6 months get the flu vaccine and says it’s not too late to get vaccinated.
Seniors, children younger than 5, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions are at an increased risk of contracting the flu.
Symptoms of the flu include days of fever, coughing, sore throat and body aches. It spreads when people cough, sneeze or even talk, and can be contracted directly or from contact with contaminated surfaces.
The best ways to avoid getting or spreading the flu are to clean your hands often with soap and water, or hand sanitizer, cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, and stay at home while you’re sick, according to the release.