The Utah Department of Health and Davis County Health Department are reporting influenza activity and are urging those who have not yet received a vaccination to make it a priority.
Since September three hospitalizations related to influenza have been reported in Utah. All three were influenza H3, which the vaccine covers.
Davis County Health Department has had four confirmed cases of influenza since the beginning of the year. Two of those cases were reported in September.
"Reports from doctors and data from our syndromic surveillance is indicating increased visits to doctors for respiratory illnesses," said UDOH epidemiologist Rachelle Boulton. "However, laboratory data suggests that there is a good amount of other respiratory viruses circulating, so at this time, it's difficult to say how much of the respiratory illness out there is flu."
Davis County Health Department epidemiologist Brian Hatch said it takes approximately two weeks for the vaccination to build up an immunity to the flu, so it's important to get it now. While influenza is always circulating, Hatch said it usually spreads faster around October and November.
"Because influenza is unpredictable we don't know what kind of a season to expect," he said. "We do know that the influenza we are seeing right now is covered through the vaccine, so it's a good idea to get in and get it as soon as possible."
Lori Buttars, public relations director at the Weber-Morgan Health Department, said no cases have been reported in the county but things can change quickly.
"We've heard of a couple of clusters in Salt Lake Valley, so it's just a matter of time before it moves up here," she said. "We encourage people to be vigilant with social distancing, hand washing, covering their nose and mouth when they cough or sneeze and staying home when they are sick."
Influenza has a rapid onset, Hatch said. A person can go to work feeling fine in the morning and be in bed by early afternoon with cough, body aches, chills and fever.
"We are seeing some illnesses that are mimicking the flu, but if you have the flu, you will definitely know it because you won't be out of bed for a week," he said. "It comes on very fast and pretty much knocks you out."
Boulton said the state health department is encouraging providers to submit specimens for testing at the state lab if they believe they have a patient with influenza, whether they are hospitalized or not. She said that will help determine how much the flu is circulating.
"Get the shot," Buttars said. "We believe that one reason last year's novel virus, which is still circulating, did not translate into epic proportions of 1918 is because people took advantage of the vaccine that was made available."