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Winter Resource Center: Flu, COVID-19 and RSV

This winter, protect yourself and your family against COVID-19,  influenza (flu) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The following resources are intended to help you safeguard yourself and your family, identify symptoms, and seek care if needed.

The good news is that many of the same behaviors can help protect people from all three viruses, plus many others that may be circulating and have similar symptoms.

  • Influenza (flu) is a respiratory illness that affects the nose, throat, and lungs. People 65 years and older, young children, pregnant people, and people with certain health conditions are at higher risk of developing serious complications from flu infection.

    How it spreads: Flu can spread by breathing in droplets carrying virus from an infected person when they cough, sneeze, or talk. Flu may also spread by people touching a contaminated surface or object that has flu virus on it, then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.

    Treatment: Flu can be treated with antiviral drugs your doctor can prescribe when illness is caught early.

    2023 Flu Vaccine and Flu Clinic Information

    Flu vaccines (shots) for patients are available as a part of a scheduled visit with your primary care team, or as a scheduled flu vaccine appointment at a Flu Clinic (see details below). Please note: 

    • Only flu vaccines will be available at Flu Clinic appointments – no other vaccines are available at this time
    • Vaccines will not be administered to family members accompanying scheduled patients
    • Patients are strongly encouraged to wear a mask at all times

    Virginia Mason Flu Clinic Details (by appointment only)

    At this time, Flu Clinic appointments are only being offered at the following Virginia Mason locations by appointment only.  

    • Virginia Mason Franciscan Health Medical Pavilion – Edmonds
      Address: 7315 212th St. SW, Suite 101, Edmonds, WA 98026
      Dates/Time: Monday - Friday | 2 to 4 p.m.
      Details: Check in at the front desk on the 1st floor. For patients 6 months and older.
    • Virginia Mason Franciscan Health Medical Pavilion – University Village
      Address: 2671 NE 46th St., Seattle, WA 98105
      Dates/Times: Monday - Friday | 8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
      Details: Check in on Level B, at the east front desk (right side). For patients 6 months to 3 years ONLY

    To make a flu vaccine appointment at one of the Flu Clinics, please schedule online through the MyVirginiaMason Patient Portal or call 206-525-8000.

  • COVID-19 is still circulating in communities and can still cause serious illness, hospitalization, and death.

    People with certain medical conditions are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. Everyone should prepare for potential increases through the fall and winter and take preventive action to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19.

    How it spreads: COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. These particles can be breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth. In some circumstances, they may contaminate surfaces they touch. Learn how COVID-19 spreads and the factors that make risk of spread higher or lower.

    Treatment: If you or a loved one have a fever, cough or any other symptoms associated with COVID-19 or were exposed to someone with COVID-19, we recommend that you schedule a Virginia Mason Franciscan Health virtual urgent care visit today, visit one of our Urgent Care Clinics, or contact your Primary Care Provider to be assessed for COVID-19. 

    We no longer provide COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic patients who require COVID-19 testing for travel or work at our Urgent Care locations. Those patients will be referred to their primary care provider or their local community COVID-19 testing sites (including Walgreens and CVS). COVID-19 testing is available at most of our primary and specialty care clinics by appointment. Please call ahead for more details.

    If you test positive for COVID-19, treatments are available and should be taken early. The FDA has authorized certain antiviral medications to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in people who are more likely to get very sick.

  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common virus that usually causes mild cold-like symptoms like cough, runny nose, and low-grade fever. It can also cause wheezing. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially in babies and children under 5 years old and in older adults. Severe infections can include bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) or pneumonia (infection of the lungs). RSV can also worsen conditions like asthma.

    How it spreads: RSV can be spread through coughs, sneezes, direct contact with the virus (like kissing the face of a child with RSV),and touching contaminated surfaces.

    Treatment: While there’s no specific treatment for RSV infection, you can take over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen to relieve symptoms. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Talk to your healthcare provider before giving your child nonprescription cold medicines. Call your healthcare provider or visit one of our Virginia Mason Franciscan Health Urgent Care clinics if you or your child is having difficulty breathing, not drinking enough fluids, or experiencing worsening symptoms.

  • Wash your hands often

    Washing your hands with soap and water is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Handwashing can prevent one in five respiratory infections, such as colds and flu, and one in three diarrhea-related illnesses.

    You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:

    • Before, during, and after preparing food
    • Before eating food
    • After using the toilet
    • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
    • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea

    Wash your hands the right way

    Washing your hands the right way removes more germs.

    Follow these five steps every time:

    1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap. 
    2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. 
    3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice. 
    4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water. 
    5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

    Vaccination – Flu

    An annual flu shot protects against the four flu strains most likely in circulation this season. If you get the flu, your flu shot may help reduce the severity of your symptoms.

    Who should get a flu shot?

    • Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every season with rare exceptions. 
    • Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at higher risk of serious complications from influenza. Those at higher risk of developing serious complications include people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant people and children younger than 5 years, but especially those younger than 2 years old.
    • Vaccination is very important for healthcare workers, people who care for children, and caregivers of those at high risk of serious illness, as well as people living in multigenerational households.
    • Visit the CDC website for more information on who should and should not get the flu shot. 

    Who should not get a flu shot?

    • People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
    • People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination.
    • Children younger than six months of age.
    • People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever should wait until they recover to get vaccinated.
    • People with a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome that occurred after receiving influenza vaccine should have their provider help to decide whether the vaccine is recommended for them or not.
    • Visit the CDC website for more information on who should and should not get the flu shot.

    How to get a flu shot?

    Flu vaccines are provided at every Virginia Mason Franciscan Health clinic across the Puget Sound beginning Sept. 1, 2023. While walk-in flu clinics are not available at this time, you may request a flu vaccine during pre-scheduled appointments with your primary care provider. The flu vaccine is not provided at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health Urgent Care clinics. Protect yourself and your family today by getting your flu vaccine early this season. 

    More flu resources

    Vaccination – COVID-19

    The CDC recommends vaccination to protect yourself and your family against COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States are effective at protecting people from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, and dying. As with other vaccine-preventable diseases, you are best protected from COVID-19 when you stay up to date with the recommended vaccinations.

    Consult the Washington State Department of Health for up-to-date information on COVID-19 community transmission, current strains, and preventive vaccination.