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Originally published December 27, 2012 at 6:25 PM | Page modified December 28, 2012 at 5:46 AM

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3 flu deaths already reported in Washington

Flu activity has picked up across Washington, especially in Western Washington, the state Health Department said Thursday.

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Flu activity has picked up across Washington, especially in Western Washington, the state Health Department said Thursday.

A Pierce County boy and two older adults in King County were the first influenza deaths in the state this season, the department said. The boy, who was younger than 12, was the first death, earlier in December. A man in his 80s and a woman in her 70s in King County died in the past two weeks.

An average of two children and 25 adults die of the flu each year in the state. The worst recent flu season was 2009-2010 when five children and 95 adults died in Washington, department spokeswoman Julie Graham said.

Doctors are required to report deaths from flu, but not flu-related deaths. Influenza often makes a person susceptible to another illness, such as pneumonia, which is listed as the cause of death, Graham said.

The Health Department monitors the number of cases through cooperating labs that share samples to identify what kind of flu is circulating.

The department has urged everyone from 6 months old on up to have an annual flu shot. The shots are especially important for people 65 and older or who are vulnerable because of medical conditions.

This year's vaccine was well-matched to the current strains, the department said.

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