'One of our most severe' flu seasons as another death reported

SEATTLE -- At least six people are dead in Washington state from the flu, the latest being a Bothell woman in her 30s who died over the weekend, the state Department of Health said Tuesday.

Doctors are worried because it's still early in the season. They say this could be the worst flu season, since the swine flu epidemic in 2009. Swine flu, or H1N1, is the dominant strain this season.

"My wife insisted that I do it," said Joe Woodward, after he got a flu shot at a drug store in Everett. Most of the people coming in to the pharmacy were there for flu shots.

"Better safe than sorry," said Woodward.

Nancy Furness, director of Communicable Diseases at Snohomish Public Health, said there are several people in hospitals around Snohomish County being treated for the flu.

"This is probably one of our most severe years," said Furness.

Young people are not usually considered at a high risk during flu season, but H1N1 is more likely to hit young adults. That's what struck Will Gardner in 2012. The 34-year-old youth football coach thought he was just battling a cold, but the symptoms got worse, and after a few days he was dead.

"Get your shots," said his friend, Justin Knowles, at the time. "It's just better to be safe than sorry and it's not worth the risk."

That's the advice doctors are giving now as well. This year's vaccine includes protection against H1N1, though it's not a guarantee you won't get the flu.  Doctors say if you get the vaccine and still get the flu, it probably won't be as bad. And if you show symptoms, the earlier you get treated, the less severe the virus is likely to be when you battle through it.