Tooele County health officials urge residents to get vaccinated against influenza from their doctor, at pharmacies, or at the Tooele County Health Department.
“The flu season runs October through March and we have plenty of vaccine available,” said Wayne Lyman, nursing director at the County health department.
“Earlier in the year, there were horrible outbreaks of influenza in the Southern Hemisphere,” Lyman said. “Because of that, there was anticipation of an outbreak here in the Northern Hemisphere, so we have a good supply of vaccine, and if we need more, we can get it.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory on Dec. 27 about increased influenza activity and its clinical implications.
“In the United States (U.S.), influenza activity has increased significantly over recent weeks with influenza A(H3N2) viruses predominating so far this season,” according to the CDC advisory. “In the past, A(H3N2) virus-predominant influenza seasons have been associated with more hospitalizations and deaths in persons aged 65 years and older and young children compared to other age groups.”
Recent data from the Utah Department of Health shows four cases of influenza hospitalization occurred in the Tooele County Health District as of Dec. 30. The season officially began on Oct. 1. Utah has seen 428 cases of influenza hospitalization as of Dec. 30, with a reported seven fatalities caused by the infectious disease.
Statistics were unavailable for last week, but Mountain West Medical Center officials report an increase in flu and flu-like symptoms.
“We have seen an increase in positive flu tests as well as an increase of illness in general, especially during the holidays, mostly in the emergency room, with a few patients admitted for observation,” said MWMC marketing director Becky Trigg.
The hospital offers vaccinations to staff, members of its Senior Circle program and patients of physicians in their clinics, Trigg said.
Louise Ekenstam, an epidemiology nurse with the County health department said it takes two weeks until a person has good protection after receiving a flu vaccination.
“The body needs time to respond to the vaccine,” she said. “We’re seeing a lot of flu activity right now, and we’re not seeing a lot of people getting vaccinated.”
She said the the flu vaccine can keep people from getting the flu, make flu less severe if they do get it, and keeps them from spreading the flu to their family and other people.
According to the CDC, the flu strikes suddenly and can last several days. Symptoms include fever, chills, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache, runny or stuffy nose.
The CDC compared flu symptoms with cold symptoms.
“The symptoms of flu can include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue (tiredness). Cold symptoms are usually milder than the symptoms of flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems,” according to the CDC.
The County health department offers vaccinations Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Friday from 8 a.m. until noon. People can call 435-277-2310 for more information or to check availability. The health department is located at 151 N. Main Street, Tooele.