After five deaths in S.L. County, Health Department urges flu shot
Jan 11, 2024, 3:00 PM
(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
SALT LAKE CITY — Two children and three adults older than 50 have died of the flu in Salt Lake County during the cold and flu season of fall and winter.
“None of them have a record of receiving a flu vaccine,” said Nicholas Rupp of the Salt Lake County Health Department. “It is very tragic, very sad news when anyone dies from a vaccine-preventable illness.”
During the past two weeks, 353 people in Salt Lake County have been hospitalized with influenza, said Rupp. There have been 706 hospitalizations due to the flu across Utah this season as reported by KSL.com.
Three strains at once
People are most contagious during the first three to four days after their illness begins. But infants and people with weakened immune systems who are infected with influenza viruses may be contagious for longer than seven days, according to the CDC.
Rupp said this season is different from years past in that three flu strains are actively circulating.
“This season is a little bit unusual in the influenza arena because we have three strains that are actively circulating. Now most influenza season, we have one dominant strain that’s responsible for the majority of cases,” he said.
Rupp said the three active strains this year are familiar to healthcare professionals.
“They’re not uncommon strains. They are what we expected, which is good news because all three are in this year’s seasonal flu vaccine.
“There are four strains in the vaccine, and three of the four are the three that we are seeing circulated. This year’s vaccine is very well-matched to the season we’re seeing,” he said.
Flu is easier, shorter if you’re vaccinated
It’s not too late to be vaccinated against influenza infection, Rupp said, as the season stretches into May.
If you become ill, your symptoms will be less severe and your sickness will be shorter if you are vaccinated against influenza.
“In unvaccinated people, the flu can be weeks. You can be two weeks of that fatigue and achiness. If you’re vaccinated, it’s much more likely you’ll be three, four, or five days of that terrible fatigue.
“So getting vaccinated — even if you end up getting the virus anyway — is still a big benefit to making the illness easier to handle and helping ensure you don’t end up hospitalized or worse,” Rupp said.
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