SALT LAKE CITY -- At this time last year, hundreds of people were so concerned about H1N1 and the regular flu that they stood in line for hours to get vaccinated.
Health departments are less hectic this year because H1N1 is less prevalent. But during National Influenza Vaccination Week, health officials want to make sure people are still taking flu season seriously.
The Utah Health Department says every year thousands of people are hospitalized and die from complications of influenza. More than 800 people were hospitalized in Utah last year due to flu compared to 21 cases so far this year. Because of the slowdown, health care providers can direct more effort toward preventing the flu rather than treating it.
The Utah Health Department says getting vaccinated every year remains the best method of prevention. It is also trying to dispel some common myths:
- Myth 1: Influenza vaccine causes influenza.
The particles in the vaccine are inactive and can't transmit the live virus to a person who gets vaccinated or from the vaccinated person to others. Even the particles in the live-virus nasal spray are so weakened, they don't cause the severe symptoms associated with influenza infection. Sometimes, a vaccinated person may experience minor reactions to the vaccine, such as muscle aches or stomach upset, but this isn't the influenza infection and the symptoms will usually last for 1-2 days.
- Myth 2: Young and healthy people do not need to get vaccinated.
Even young, healthy people can get seriously ill and die from influenza. The recent H1N1 pandemic affected the younger population more than is typically seen with seasonal influenza. The good news is this group usually responds better to the flu vaccine than older adults. But even if a person doesn't want the vaccine for personal protection, getting vaccinated can help prevent a person from spreading the flu to others, such as infants who may be too young to be vaccinated and to people with weakened immune systems or older people who don't respond as well to the vaccine.
The 2010-2011 flu vaccine will protect against three kinds of influenza, including H1N1. It will be available at numerous locations such as private health care providers, community health centers, public health departments, aging services, some pharmacies and grocery stores. For more information call the Utah Immunization Hotline at: 1-800-275-0659 or visit the Flu Clinic Locator.