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Protect yourself and your family from the respiratory illnesses in our community

As a mom with two kids, I know this is the time of year when families bring home sniffles and coughs from daycare, school, and work.

Are you and your family ready for respiratory illness season?

We see seasonal flu activity every year in fall and winter. Last year, we saw a sharp increase in cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) among kids and older adults. Add in COVID-19, and it could be a dangerous time for all of us—especially those who are most vulnerable.

Even if you avoid severe illness, getting sick feels crummy and disrupts your busy life.

When you protect yourself and your family from respiratory illness, you help those around you, too. Everyone in our community has a better chance to be healthy!

Different diseases, similar threats.

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness that infects the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. Most years, the flu kills hundreds of people in Washington and sends thousands more to the hospital.

RSV usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or 2—but RSV can be serious, especially for babies and older adults.

COVID-19 is very contagious and spreads quickly. Most people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, but some people face severe illness. 

While these diseases are different, all 3 have similar symptoms and prevention strategies.

These respiratory illnesses can cause: 

  • Cough. 
  • Fever. 
  • Sore throat. 
  • Body aches. 

For all 3 diseases, you’re at higher risk to get very sick if you’re: 

  • Over age 65. 
  • Pregnant. 
  • Living with a health condition like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease.

Thankfully, we have effective vaccines for all 3 diseases! 

The flu shot is updated every year to provide the best protection. The new, updated (2023–2024) COVID-19 vaccines better protect against circulating variants. New RSV vaccines are available for people who are pregnant or age 60 or older—and antibody treatment is available for babies and toddlers.

Protect yourself, your family, and our community.

While older and younger patients may be at higher risk for severe illness, all 3 diseases can make anyone sick. That can make you and your children miss work and school. 

As disease spread rises, so too could emergency room and hospital visits. This makes it hard for folks with other conditions to get the care they need.

The good news is, we know what works best to protect against respiratory illness.

  • Everyone 6 months or older should get a flu shot and updated COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Everyone 60 years or older can get RSV vaccine.
  • Wash your hands often, with soap and water.
  • If you’re sick, stay home.
  • Consider wearing a mask when you’re in a crowded indoor space or around those who are most vulnerable.

Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacy when and where you can get all your doses of vaccine. Learn more about fluRSV and COVID-19.

A mom holds her baby while she gets a dose of vaccine.