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Tanner Siegworth, KSL TV

Influenza related hospitalizations on the rise in Utah

By Ashley Kewish, KSL TV | Posted - Jan. 22, 2018 at 10:27 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Influenza hospitalizations have more than doubled in less than three weeks. It's widespread and affecting every community right now in Utah.

"Right now, we are in the middle of flu season," said Becky Ward on Monday. She works in the Bureau of Epidemiology at the Utah Department of Health.

Doctors offices and hospitals are seeing a surge, more so than earlier years.

"You're going to feel like you've been hit by a truck pretty fast," Ward said.

And the numbers are growing fast. According to the Utah Department of Health, less than three weeks ago, more than 400 Utahns had been hospitalized for influenza. As of Monday, that number is now over 850.

"What we're seeing mostly right now is a type A(H3)," Ward said.

Health department officials say they've seen this particular strain before and is especially harmful to the elderly and very young. Experts say flu season has yet to peak in Utah.

"We expect it to continue for a number of weeks, and even if it does slowly die down, you're still going to see severe illness," said Gregg Reed, an influenza surveillance epidemiologist at the Utah Department of Health.

More on the Utah flu season

Ward said it's not too late to get that flu shot for you and your family.

"People think if I didn't get the vaccine in October or November, it's too late," she added. "As long as influenza is going around, and it is, get vaccinated."

This year, health department officials say the vaccine is about 30 percent effective.

"Something is better than nothing," Ward said.

Ward added getting the vaccine can mean less severe symptoms if you do get influenza.

"You're not only getting vaccinated for yourself, but to prevent the spread of illness in your community," Reed added.


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