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Swine flu cases on the rise; Vaccine still weeks away

Swine flu cases on the rise; Vaccine still weeks away

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SALT LAKE CITY -- With the H1N1 vaccine not expected for weeks, state health officials say swine flu cases have been on the rise in Utah.

"We've started to see a bit of an uptick," Utah Department of Health spokesman Tom Hudachko told KSL Newsradio Thursday morning.

Hudachko says workers have confirmed 21 new cases of swine flu the past two weeks in Utah. So-called "sentinel clinics" have sent the state 70 samples in that time. Of the 21 that came up positive for influenza, all were the H1N1 strain.

"We always expected that we'd see a resurgence of H1N1 this fall," Hudachko said. "We knew that once schools got back in session and kids were in close quarters together that there was a chance that more illness and disease would start spreading."

The vaccine is currently slated to arrive in Utah in mid-October. Local health departments are making tentative plans.

The Salt Lake Valley Health Department is currently planning to contract with nurses to go to schools across the county this fall and give students the swine flu vaccine, class by class.

Medical Director Dagmar Vitek says parents will have the ability to opt their kids out of the shots.

"We know it's a safe vaccine," Vitek said. "It's produced the same way as seasonal, so it's going to have the same safety as seasonal influenza, but we would not do anything to our children without parental consent."

Ditek is recommending, though, that school children receive both the swine flu and seasonal flu vaccines. She says the H1N1 strain appears to be affecting younger populations more than older ones.

"School and day care environments are breeding grounds," Vitek said. "Children really can spread it in the school settings and day care settings rather quickly."

The county is faced with executing a major saturation effort. It will have received 500,000 swine flu shot doses by the end of December. Ditek says nurses usually administer 8,000 or 9,000 seasonal flu shots per year.

The department is already trying to distribute its seasonal flu doses. It has a mass vaccination planned for Saturday.


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Andrew Adams


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