H1N1 on the wane in Utah
The once feared H1N1 flu appears to be on its way out in Utah -- and elsewhere.
But the Utah Department of Health is still urging residents to get vaccinated.
"No one can guarantee exactly if or when a third wave will occur," said Charla Haley, spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Health.
Haley said children who have received one dose of the H1N1 vaccine still should get a second dose, or booster. Children generally can get their second dose at least 28 days after the first one.
"Unless your child has had the second dose, the vaccine is not completely effective," she said.
Since it first emerged in April of last year, H1N1 flu has caused an estimated 15,200 deaths worldwide, including 27 in Utah, public health officials say. The last H1N1-related death reported in the state was last month.
The overall number of deaths is vastly lower than many had anticipated, though, in great part due to widespread vaccination efforts and the fact that the virus didn't mutate into a much more deadly form.
In Utah, the first wave of H1N1 hit in May, ebbing by July. In September, a second wave hit. But that second wave peaked in October and has been on the decline since. So far this season, health officials in Utah estimate that nearly 890 people have been hospitalized for flu, both the seasonal and H1N1 variety.
The lines of last fall for H1N1 vaccination clinics are long gone, and interest in getting shots -- which are free on a walk-in basis to anyone in many parts of the state -- has waned.
Even Utah's Catholics, who suspended sharing the communion cup and shaking hands in October to help limit the spread of the H1N1 flu virus, have gone back to traditional ways.
In a Jan. 25 letter to the Diocese of Salt Lake City, Bishop. John C. Wester said the diocese has consulted with the Salt Lake Valley Health Department and the Center for Disease Control concerning the H1N1 flu virus and said that "all parishes and missions of the Diocese of Salt Lake City should return to normal liturgical practices immediately."
Priests, deacons and communion ministers, however, are to continue to discreetly use hand sanitizers before and after communion.