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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah health officials are issuing a renewed call to get a flu shot. Statistics show the worst part of the flu season in Utah could still be yet to come.
Typically the flu season runs from September through mid-May. Last season, Salt Lake County reached its peak in the last two weeks of February.
On Wednesday, the Utah Department of Health reported that so far there have been a total of 131 influenza-associated hospitalizations during the current flu season, with 28 new cases reported in the third week in February.
While that number is down compared to the same time period last year, the health department says flu season has yet to peak in Utah. "Salt Lake County, Utah and the rest of the nation are continuing to see an increase in flu cases, which means we have not yet peaked for this season," explained Andrea Price, epidemiologist at Salt Lake Valley Health Department.
The Centers for Disease Control says 17 pediatric deaths associated with the flu have been reported so far across the country. Nine of those were reported in a one week period between Feb. 14 and Feb. 21. One of the cases was from Salt Lake County.
Earlier this season, State Epidemiologist Dr. Robert Rolffs spoke about the risks associated with the virus. He says it's disturbing how many people go unvaccinated.
"Even if you take the third who've gotten the vaccine so far and another fifth or so, we only get about half the people who plan on having received it. So, half the people remain unprotected against a pretty serious illness. That's what I meant by disturbing," he said.
The Salt Lake County Health Department says it's not too late to get a flu shot. In an effort to get people vaccinated, it has dropped the price to $5.
Infants must be at least 6 months old to be vaccinated. Those who come in contact with young babies are being asked to take the initiative to get the vaccination for themselves.
The $5 influenza vaccine is available on a first-come, first-served basis at the following Salt Lake Valley Heath Department Clinics. Walk-ins are welcome.
South East Public Health Center
9340 South 700 East
Sandy, UT 84070
South Main Public Health Center S
3690 South Main Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84115
For additional information on the availability of the vaccine and vaccination guidelines, call 801-534-4693 or visit the link on this page.