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Will this mean flu for you? Neighboring states showing widespread outbreaks

If you have friends or family visiting from out of state, watch those sneezes and coughs.

Oregon and Idaho already are showing widespread influenza outbreaks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national tracking map. So is California.

Washington, so far, is still listed as having “regional” flu activity (one level below widespread) on the map.

Washington’s Department of Health, in its mid-December report, said there have been 10 confirmed flu deaths in the state so far this season.

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department said Tuesday that flu activity remains low but is on the rise in the area, with three flu-related deaths so far in the county as of Dec. 9. All three people who died were 64 or older.

Flu-vaccine promotions typically occur in September at workplaces and retail pharmacies. If you haven’t already received a flu shot, call and check your local pharmacy for availability.

Odds are you should have no trouble finding this season’s vaccine.

Bartell Drugs and Walgreens, for example, told The News Tribune on Tuesday that their locations still had plenty of flu vaccinations available.

It’s best to get vaccinated before a widespread outbreak hits your area. According to the CDC, it can take up to two weeks after you receive the shot for antibodies to develop to protect you against the flu.

And, yes, you can still catch the flu in that two-week window, though the vaccine can help reduce symptoms and the duration of the illness.

It also can reduce your chance of spreading the virus.

“Although people with the flu are most contagious in the first three to four days after their illness begins, some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick,” the CDC says on its flu facts site. And, not everyone with the flu runs a fever.

The good news is once vaccinated, your immunity then should be good until next season, depending on your age and health.

Debbie Cockrell: 253-597-8364, @Debbie_Cockrell

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