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Flu season: How is Utah doing while parts of the US see an early uptick in cases?

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Flu season is hitting other states harder and earlier than usual, while Utah seems to be seeing the number of cases normally expected for this time of year, according to state health officials. (Photo: KUTV FILE)

Flu season is hitting other states harder and earlier than usual, while Utah seems to be seeing the number of cases normally expected for this time of year, according to state health officials.

The latest map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a minimal level of flu activity in Utah and a spike in the south.

Since October, 24 people have been hospitalized in Utah for the flu, according to Keegan McCaffrey, influenza epidemiologist for the Utah Department of Health.

Do the increased number of illnesses elsewhere mean anything for Utah?

“It’s really hard to say,” McCaffrey said. “We like to say flu is unpredictable, and so we don’t know yet how bad this season’s going to be.”

He said the state is beginning to see the seasonal uptick in the number of flu cases and encourages people to get a flu shot.

“By getting the flu vaccine, you’re not just protecting yourself,” McCaffrey said. “You’re protecting the people around you.”

Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, infectious disease physician for Intermountain Healthcare, said flu season peaks later in the winter — January or February — so Utahns should prepare now.

“The influenza vaccine’s not perfect,” Stenehjem said, “but it does work in a lot of people, and it prevents the flu and it also reduces the severity of the flu.”