Press release – 2022-2023 Flu season off to early start; vaccination is best protection

October 20, 2022

Although flu season is just beginning, the virus claimed the life of a Spokane County resident this past week — Spokane County’s first flu-related death this season and one of two total hospitalizations so far, according to Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD). The patient was in their 60s with underlying health conditions.

“Unfortunately, this is a sad example of how serious flu can be,” said Dr. Francisco Velázquez, Spokane County health officer. “Our hearts are with the family and friends who are grieving this terrible loss.”

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. Some people, such as those over the age of 65, young children, pregnant women, American Indian/Alaska Natives and those with certain health conditions, are at higher risk for serious flu complications.

During the 2021-2022 season (Oct. 1-Sept. 30), there were a total of 21 flu-related deaths in Washington state as reported by the Washington State Department of Health in their Washington State Influenza Update. In Spokane County, there were eight deaths, one of which was a child under the age of 10, and 78 Spokane County residents were hospitalized with flu last season.

People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Extreme fatigue (very tired)

“Your best chance at protecting yourself and others is to get the flu vaccine,” said Velázquez.

Flu vaccines are designed to protect against the most common flu viruses. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone 6 months of age and older get immunized against flu. The vaccine promotes antibody protection within two weeks.

Flu shots are available at numerous locations throughout Spokane County, including healthcare provider offices, local pharmacies and grocery stores. It can be administered at the same time as the COVID-19 bivalent booster, which is now authorized for everyone ages 5 and older.

Velázquez says, “Since some vaccines are intended for certain groups, talk to your provider or pharmacist about the vaccine that is best for you.”

For more information about influenza, influenza vaccine, and the differences between the flu and COVID-19, visit where a full influenza report will be published weekly.

Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) is a leader and partner in public health by protecting, improving and promoting the health and well-being of all people through evidence-based practices. SRHD is one of 34 local public health agencies serving Washington state’s 39 counties. Visit for comprehensive, updated information about SRHD and its triumphs in making Spokane a safer and healthier community. Like SRHD on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to receive safety and wellness tips.

Spokane Regional Health District Logo with "I got my vaccine" text bubble