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Ed Yeates ReportingSick kids and adults keep pouring into Wasatch Front ERs and clinics as the flu and flu-like illnesses continue attacking from all fronts. As of this hour, four health departments in the state have run out of flu vaccine and what supplies are left are dwindling fast.
Avoiding contact with sick people may be the only option left now, in the absence of vaccine. In fact, hospitals along the Wasatch Front have set into motion what is called an etiquette protocol.
Tilde Chacon from Colorado has been really sick while visiting family in Utah. In the ER she has a choice to either wear a mask or cover her mouth. That's what all patients are being asked to do if they show any signs of respiratory illness - flu or not.
So don't feel uncomfortable if you're asked to put on a mask; it's for your protection and the protection of others.
If the caseload continues to climb in months to come, we may have to curtail some traditional holiday customs. In its fighting the flu protocol, LDS Hospital's infectious disease practitioner refused in a nice way to shake my hand today in E.R.
Routett Abouzelof, RN, MSN, LDS Hospital Infectious Disease Practitioner: "Our culture is one of shaking hands at church and whenever we go to greet people. It's just part of our culture and we need to stop that because right now when we have this type of an outbreak, we're spreading things on our hands."
Even more, the State Health Department says this may be the year to step back from large social gatherings if you're sick. Even if not, you may want to walk away, especially if sick adults or kids are present.
Scott Williams, M.D., Executive Dir., State Health Dept: "I would get up and move or maybe say hey maybe we'll leave early and go do something else. Because you're very likely, it's quite contagious in terms of the spread of this and you're quite likely to come down with it if you're around people for a little while who have it."