FAQ

There is a lot happening at the Seattle Flu Study, and we want to be sure to answer any questions you might have about the work we are doing!

The Seattle Flu Study is a collaborative effort led by the Brotman Baty Institute for Precision Medicine, UW Medicine, The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Seattle Children’s to determine how best to detect, prevent, and respond to respiratory illnesses.

During the 2020-2021 flu season, our research focuses on overlaps among how the flu, COVID-19, and other respiratory illnesses are transmitted. Our work depends on you, so please apply to be part of one of these ongoing studies.

The Seattle Flu Study began three years ago with a focus on studying the flu (seasonal influenza). We wanted to improve our understanding of how it spreads in the Seattle area, so we could contribute to the development of new ways to detect it early and slow its spread. Because of that work, we were among the first to discover and identify COVID-19 in the Seattle area. Early in 2020, we launched SCAN to focus our studies on COVID-19 testing in collaboration with Public Health - Seattle & King County and have expanded to include Tacoma and Pierce County.

Through these studies, we hope to find faster and more efficient ways to detect, prevent, and respond to respiratory illnesses.

No, but thank you for asking! We’re not providing vaccines to participants in our studies. We hope you and your family will get your annual flu shot, and sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine when they become available.

For complete recommendations and information about the flu vaccine from the CDC, click here.

For complete recommendations and information about the COVID-19 vaccine from the CDC, click here.

For information about influenza from Public Health - Seattle & King County, click here.

For information about COVID-19 from Public Health - Seattle & King County, click here.

We have several studies that are open to different populations in the Seattle area.

If you need help identifying which study is right for you, please email us at enroll@seattleflu.org.

The exact process depends on which study you qualify for, but it’s always easy and safe—and you can take part without leaving home. Once you’re in a study, you’ll typically be asked to answer simple survey questions to qualify or for as long as the study lasts (up to 8 months).

If you develop symptoms of a respiratory illness, you may be asked to take an at-home test. If you take a test, you’ll be able to access your results through our website. If you test positive for COVID-19, a researcher or public health official will contact you.

We are running several studies during the 2020-2021 flu study. If you think you might qualify for one of the studies, or are interested in learning more about enrollment criteria please visit the study’s page for additional details.

If you need help identifying which study is right for you, please email us at enroll@seattleflu.org.

If you take part in a study and you are tested for COVID-19 you will be able to access your test results in two ways:

  • Online: You will receive a personal barcode and a link to a secure website where you can enter the barcode. We may not be able to provide your results if you lose your barcode.
  • Phone: You can call us at 206-616-5859. We will confirm your identity and then provide your results.

Though we use a clinical grade test, your test results should not be treated as a replacement for medical care or for a diagnostic test from a medical provider.

You are not required to go to the website and look at your results if you do not want to.

Research results for other respiratory illnesses (e.g. flu) may be generated, however, we cannot return those to participants at this time.

No. Your privacy is extremely important to us. Only the study team will have access to personal information you provide for the study.

No data directly linked to you will ever be made publicly available. If you take a test, you’ll be given a personal barcode to protect access to your results. All study information will be stored in a secure, confidential manner.

No, the study will not affect your health insurance because all the information we collect will be confidential. This study is not part of your medical care, and will not be shared with your healthcare providers or insurance companies unless you choose to share that information with a provider on your own.

No, definitely not! If you aren’t currently sick and you qualify based on other factors, you’ll simply answer questions throughout your time in the study.

If you develop symptoms later on, we may send you a nose swab and you’ll mail your materials back to us from your home. There is no risk that participating in the Seattle Flu Study will get you sick.

We will store your swab sample so researchers can use it in the future, unless you request otherwise. It will be stored only with a randomly created ID number and any other information will be held privately (see: Will anyone be able to see my information? question). You can still take part in the study if you decide that you don’t want your sample to be stored.

Thank you for asking! Here are some tips:

  • Flu: The most effective way to stop the spread of flu is for everyone 6 months of age and older to get a flu vaccination each year. Vaccines are recommended throughout flu season and into the spring; they are even more important when COVID-19 is circulating
  • COVID-19: The CDC recommends that you take these and other steps:
    • Wear a mask over your mouth and nose when around others.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
    • Put at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others from outside your household.
    • Receive a vaccination when you are eligible.

Another way you can be involved in stopping the spread of these diseases is to join the Seattle Flu Study, which will help us understand how the flu, COVID-19, and other respiratory illnesses spread in Seattle and how we can stop outbreaks sooner.