Seasonal Respiratory Illnesses
Resources for Cold & Flu Season
As we head into fall and spend more time indoors, there are actions we can take to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our community from seasonal respiratory illnesses. Respiratory viruses include COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza (flu), and other common cold viruses (rhinoviruses, coronaviruses, and other viruses). Use the links and guidance below to stay informed.
Track current trends
Visit the Washington State Department of Health Respiratory Virus Dashboard to monitor levels.
Visit our Provider Resources Webpage to find guidance and updates for healthcare providers, long term care, and school districts.
Take steps to prevent respiratory illness
Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Flu vaccines decrease the severity of flu-related illness, reducing the need for medical care and hospitalization. Symptoms of the flu include sudden onset of high fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, nausea, and fatigue.
- A yearly flu vaccine is recommended for everyone ages 6 months and older. It's best to get your family immunized by October.
- For those who are at higher risk of developing severe disease, vaccination is especially important. These groups include:
- Older adults
- Adults with certain chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease
- Pregnant people
- Children younger than 5 years, and especially those younger than 2 years old
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common respiratory virus that typically causes mild cold-like illness. Most people recover in a week or two, but infection can be serious for infants and older adults.
- Infants and young children: Monoclonal antibody treatments are CDC-approved and will soon be available to protect infants and young children from severe RSV. Parents can discuss this treatment option with their pediatrician.
- Older adults: Vaccines are currently available for adults 60 years and older to protect against severe disease.
- Pregnant people: This fall, pregnant people will be able to receive an immunization to protect themselves and their newborn(s) against severe respiratory illness and hospitalization.
Many people with COVID-19 have mild illness, but some people can become severely ill. Symptoms may include headache, fatigue, muscle aches, runny nose, fever, loss of sense of taste and smell, and fatigue. Convenient at-home tests can help determine if you have COVID-19. Updated 2023-2024 vaccines will soon be available.
- COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for everyone ages 6 months and older. Vaccination is especially important for individuals at greater risk for severe disease including older adults and people with weakened immune systems. Vaccination decreases disease severity and helps prevent Long COVID, which can last for an extended duration following infection.
- Visit our COVID-19 Webpage to learn more.
|Current CDC Recommendations for COVID-19 Vaccinations:|
When to seek medical attention
If you have mild symptoms and are not at high risk for severe illness, care for yourself or family member at home, taking the following steps:
- Get plenty of rest
- Stay hydrated
- Avoid refined sugars and eat a balanced diet, adding in easy-to-digest soups
- Use over-the-counter medications to ease symptoms, such as fever and headache
Contact your healthcare provider or a nurse hotline through your insurance plan if you or a family member are concerned about symptoms or are at high risk for severe illness.
Seek immediate medical attention right away by calling 911 or visiting the nearest Emergency Room if you or a household member are experiencing severe symptoms. The following list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptom that is severe or concerning.
In infants and children:
- RSV: When It's More Than Just a Cold - Learn more about symptoms, treatment, and signs of severe illness in infants and children. @(Model.BulletStyle == CivicPlus.Entities.Modules.Layout.Enums.BulletStyle.Decimal ? "ol" : "ul")>
- Caring for a Sick Family Member - CDC guidelines for providing at-home care for a family member with the flu. @(Model.BulletStyle == CivicPlus.Entities.Modules.Layout.Enums.BulletStyle.Decimal ? "ol" : "ul")>
- Long COVID Guidance - Long COVID can include a range of ongoing health problems that can last for weeks, months, or years. @(Model.BulletStyle == CivicPlus.Entities.Modules.Layout.Enums.BulletStyle.Decimal ? "ol" : "ul")>