The Salt Lake County Health Department has confirmed the first influenza deaths of the season. Two Salt Lake County residents between the ages of 35 and 64 died in the second half of December.
According to officials at the Utah Department of Health, the number of flu related hospitalizations statewide this season is closely tracking last year’s higher than average numbers. Salt Lake County saw 21 deaths last year compared to 6 the year before, said Nicholas Rupp of the Salt Lake Health Department.
“The flu season hasn’t peaked yet. We expect it to peak sometime later this month, sometime in January, it traditionally does,” explained Rupp. “We see hospitalizations continue to increase every week though the end of the year and into the beginning of the New Year.”
Nearly all of the state’s hospitalizations have been caused by the H1N1 flu strain, which is included in this year’s vaccine.
“About 17 percent of people hospitalized with the flu in Salt Lake County have received the vaccine. The majority of those who are sick enough to be hospitalized did not get vaccinated,” Rupp said.
The flu season goes through May and officials say it’s not too late to get the vaccine, which takes two weeks to produce immunity.