Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Don’t be lulled by slow start to flu season, say health officials

Public health » Why wait? Protect yourself and loved ones, get your flu shot now, officials urge.



< Previous Page


Like elections and taxes, there’s no avoiding the flu season – which has arrived, say Utah health officials who urge everyone, from 6-month-old babies on up, to get vaccinated.

Flu seasons vary in severity and duration. There’s nothing remarkable about this year’s pattern, yet.

At a glance

Need a flu shot?

Bear River

Vaccinations are available at department clinics and at scheduled events in schools. Visit www.brhd.org for details.

Salt Lake Valley

The department began online reservations appointments at its clinics last year. Appointments can be made at www.slvhealth.org.

Utah County

The department is offering flu shots in all their Provo, American Fork and Payson clinics, and reaching out to schools in Highland, Payson and Lehi.

For details visit www.UtahCountyHealth.org/flushots, where the required paperwork is available to fill out in advance, or call 801-851-7025.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"We haven’t seen a whole lot of activity in Utah or nationally," said Valoree Vernon, an epidemiologist with the state Department of Health. "But that’s typical. We usually don’t see [flu cases] peak until January or February. Now is the time to get your flu shot so you can be protected."

Utah follows guidelines set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which have expanded in recent years. Previously, flu shots were recommended only for certain high-risk populations, including those with lung problems such as asthma, pregnant women, the elderly and health care workers.

Influential groups have started questioning the broader guidelines, arguing vaccines are being overhyped, giving consumers false hope and drugmakers no incentive to improve them.

Most recently, a review of 45 years of clinical research by the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota found influenza vaccines provide only "moderate" protection for healthy, middle-aged adults, and little to no protection in seniors.

Utah officials concede that vaccines are imperfect.

"But it’s better than nothing. It may not prevent you from getting the flu, but it provides some protection and will probably reduce the severity of symptoms and keep you from dying," said Rebecca Ward, a health department spokeswoman.

A highly contagious respiratory illness, the flu can make you miserable with muscle aches, fatigue, a fever, cough, sore throat and runny nose. It can also kill you.

Young children are especially vulnerable, according to the CDC, which reports one influenza-associated pediatric death so far this year. Last year, 122 children died.


story continues below
story continues below

States don’t track flu vaccinations, which are voluntary for all but some health workers.

Utah’s Vaccines for Children program reports a slight drop in demand for shots, but growing hunger for the flu mist, which is approved for limited use.

The Salt Lake Valley Health Department has vaccinated about 7,000 people since it started on Sept. 4, said spokeswoman Pam Davenport.

It’s a good idea, "first, to avoid the misery" of having the flu, Davenport said, but also "to help protect those with compromised immune systems, like grandma and grandpa; someone who might be going through chemotherapy ... infants who can’t get vaccinated under six months."

Salt Lake County Aging Services abandoned its drive-through vaccination clinic this year because the shots are so widely available in doctor’s offices, pharmacies, even grocery stores, said an agency spokesman Ken Venables. Aging Services encourages seniors to get vaccinated because immune systems get weaker with age, Venables said.

Growing skepticism about vaccines doesn’t worry Ward, who says cold weather and spikes in flu cases are powerful motivators.

"That’s why our message is so simple. Why wait? Get vaccinated now," she said.

kstewart@sltrib.com



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.