A handful of flu shot options available at the QFC Pharmacy on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A handful of flu shot options available at the QFC Pharmacy on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Flu killed 8 adults, 3 children in last year’s season

Report recommends people get flu shots this year

Eleven Alaskans died during the 2019-2020 influenza season from a flu-like illness, the Alaska Division of Epidemiology reported in a bulletin released last Wednesday.

That contrasts with 56 COVID-19 related-deaths in Alaska as of Sunday, Sept. 27.

Eight of the Alaskans who died of flu last year were adults and three were ages 1 to 6, according to the report.

“Alaska Influenza Surveillance Summary, 2019-20 Season” is the annual report on the flu season. The Division of Epidemiology also produces weekly reports. They track timing of flu activity, strains of viruses circulating and deaths from flu. In the 2019-20 season, widespread flu activity started earlier in the season, with reports of flu on Oct. 5. The season ended abruptly in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected public health care seeking activity.

Virus strains of flu identified matched the 2019-20 influenza vaccine except for one strain, the B/Victoria strain. The number of laboratory-identified cases peaked in early January 2020, with up to 800 cases in one day at the peak. Type B influenza was the most common viral strain.

The annual report also recommended that health care providers should strongly urge patients older than six months to get a flu vaccine by the end of October.

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.

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