Doctors’ offices, pharmacies, and supermarkets across the state have started offering flu shots for the 2013/2014 flu season. The official start to the influenza season is still a few weeks off, and Centers for Disease Control officials said they typically see hospitalizations from the virus start October 1.
The flu season in Utah lasts between October and May and normally sees 500 hospitalizations; though last year saw nearly double that number.
Rebecca Ward from the Utah Department of Health said this year’s vaccine will be different from previous years.
“There’s actually a new vaccine out this year and it’s called quadrivalent—meaning it’s got four types [of virus]—typically, you have three types of the virus,” Ward said.
Ward says flu strains that caused alarm in years past, such as the swine flu, were not detected in Utah during the last flu season. Even so, she suggests that everyone get vaccinated as soon as the shots or spray become available.
“The influenza vaccine is recommended for anyone 6 months of age and above. It’s not just for specific individuals, although there are high risk groups that should seriously consider getting vaccinated,” Ward said.
Women who are pregnant, people over 50, those with health conditions and daycare workers are especially encouraged to get the vaccine. Ward says those who get the vaccine but still come down with the virus typically see milder symptoms and are less likely to be hospitalized.