Health officials: Flu season about to peak, so get vaccinated

Dec 30 2010 - 1:28am

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(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) A box of vaccine sits on the shelf at the Davis County Health Department, ready to be given to those still needing to be protected before flu season peaks, likely in the next few weeks.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) Dee Jette gets a flu shot from nurse Pat Smith at the Davis County Health Department in Clearfield on Wednesday.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) Nurse Pat Smith looks for a flu vaccination in a refrigerated storage locker at the Davis County Health Department in Clearfield on Wednesday.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) Unused syringes are ready to be used for flu shots at the Davis County Health Department in Clearfield.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) A box of vaccine sits on the shelf at the Davis County Health Department, ready to be given to those still needing to be protected before flu season peaks, likely in the next few weeks.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) Dee Jette gets a flu shot from nurse Pat Smith at the Davis County Health Department in Clearfield on Wednesday.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) Nurse Pat Smith looks for a flu vaccination in a refrigerated storage locker at the Davis County Health Department in Clearfield on Wednesday.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) Unused syringes are ready to be used for flu shots at the Davis County Health Department in Clearfield.

FARMINGTON -- An increase in the number of hospitalizations in Davis County from influenza, as well as the number of flu cases being reported in Europe, are giving Davis County health officials cause for concern heading into the peak of the flu season.

"It looks like we are at the onset of the flu season," Davis County Health Director Lewis R. Garrett said of the uptick in the number of confirmed cases, something that generally indicates a trend and not a blip.

As a result, Garrett said, he suspects the influenza season will peak in the next few weeks.

Weber-Morgan Health Department officials also think the influenza season will peak in coming weeks.

"I believe we are just starting to see cases," communicable disease nurse Tina L'Estrange said of influenza cases, which have a tendency to increase after people have gathered for the holidays.

Eight years ago, health officials statewide stopped keeping count of the number of flu cases reported in the county and instead began counting only the confirmed flu cases resulting in hospitalization, Garrett said.

What concerns Garrett is that the health department is seeing an increase in the number of hospitalization cases in Davis County as a result of influenza.

There have been five this season, three of them involving children.

"We're likely to see substantial increases in the number of flu cases over the next few weeks," he said.

Also, looming on the horizon is the Jan. 3 start of school following the Christmas holiday break.

"Sometimes that amplifies the spread of influenza," Garrett said.

That is why Davis Health officials are encouraging the public to be vaccinated against the flu.

"It is definitely not too late to get the vaccine," Garrett said.

Weber-Morgan Health officials are making the same plea.

"We have plenty," L'Estrange said of flu vaccines. "Send (people) on down."

Weber County has had seven hospitalizations because of influenza this month; three of the seven cases have involved children, L'Estrange said.

"The flu is unpredictable, so we never know," she said.

This year's influenza numbers compared with last year's will be smaller. During October 2009, 107 Weber County residents were hospitalized.

"So seven (hospitalizations this month) is way low compared to what we saw last year," L'Estrange said, "but it's been pretty typical for what we see each year."

Typically, the influenza season peaks in January and February, L'Estrange said, but can extend through March.

The 2010-11 flu vaccine will protect against the 2009 H1N1 virus, a H3N2 virus and an influenza B virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

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