This season’s flu outbreak is a doozy. If you think you may have it – or just a severe cold -- you now have an alternative to the overcrowded emergency room. Swedish offers on-demand options to meet your care needs. You can get treatment at one of our Swedish Express Care or urgent care clinics, visit with a doctor at your home, or get answers in an online virtual visit with a doctor using your cellphone, tablet or computer. These on-demand options save you time and money, while limiting your exposure to colds and the flu.
And if you haven’t had a flu vaccination, you should – even now – physicians say. A vaccination may still help you avoid being swept into this winter’s tidal wave of sickness.
The flu is swamping the region’s health care system
This season’s flu outbreak is setting records in the Northwest. It’s stressing emergency departments and, in some cases, contributing to the deaths of older people and those with pre-existing conditions.
“Our emergency departments (EDs) are still getting slammed by the flu, as are many hospitals on the I-5 corridor,” said David Selander, M.D., director of the emergency department at Swedish.
The Seattle Times reported recently that 5 percent of emergency room visits in King County were related to the flu, up from the typical 2 percent. In Washington, Swedish has been tracking the flu. Across the state, there have been 76 laboratory-confirmed flu deaths this year. Those who died were elderly or had underlying health conditions. Learn more flu facts based on the data Swedish has complied here.
In Oregon, The Oregonian reported that this flu season is the worst in the state’s history, with more than 1,000 hospitalizations. The state doesn’t track flu-related deaths among adults, the newspaper said.
Express Care is quick and easy
Swedish, Providence and our other affiliated providers offer on-demand services that include neighborhood clinics, virtual visits and visits at home. These on-demand services provide examinations, vaccinations and can get you the treatment you need to get well fast.
If you’ve got chills, are feverish or just feel downright crummy, don’t suffer waiting in line at the ER. You can get the care you need on demand. Get started here.
The influenza virus causes a contagious respiratory illness that can be mild to severe. Young children, older people and those with certain health conditions may be especially vulnerable. Flu symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle aches
If you’re at risk, watch this video to get tips from Swedish physician Elizabeth Meade, M.D., on how to protect yourself.
It’s not too late to get vaccinated
A flu vaccine is the key preventive measure you can take to protect yourself. Health care providers urge most everyone to get a flu shot every year. Scientists use data from a current flu season to come up with a “best guess” for an effective vaccine for the next season.
Fortunately, this year, the vaccine is a good match for H2N3 subtype of influenza A, the flu strain that’s currently circulating. However, many people haven’t gotten the vaccine. At Swedish, only a little more than 58 percent of primary care patients have been vaccinated at their provider’s office.
“It definitely still makes sense to get vaccinated this year … and every year hereafter, until the end of time,” said Dr. Selander. “You can tell I’m a fan of vaccines.”Get well faster. Visit our Express Care site.