There were three new deaths in Utah last week from the H1N1 flu virus, according to the latest report from the Utah Department of Health.
That brings the number of deaths in the state to 12 since Sept. 1, including one death not reported more than one week ago. The deaths were of a Salt Lake County woman over age 65; a female age 5 to 24 in southwestern Utah; and a 24- to 49-year-old man in the Weber-Morgan Health District. The previously unreported death from several weeks ago was a Utah County female age 5 to 24. The state health department doesn't release any more identifying information.
(Eighteen other Utahns died from H1N1 in 2009, prior to the flu season that started Sept. 1.)
Meanwhile, the circulation rate of influenza this past week rose to 9.4 percent from 6.6 percent.
"It's the highest it has been in the past five years," said Tom Hudachko, health department spokesman.
The new report also reveals that 404 people have been hospitalized since Sept. 1 after contracting either H1N1 or the seasonal flu, 130 more than reported last week. The health department releases new statistics every Wednesday.
The good news Wednesday, Hudachko said, is that Utah has received another 72,500 doses of the H1N1 vaccine, more than a third of the 217,600 total doses the state has received to date.
"That's significantly more than last week," he said, when the shipment was 34,000 doses. "That's a step in the right direction."
The new vaccines will be divided and distributed to county health departments and medical providers, who continue to wrestle with the best way to administer the shots and FluMist.
Tuesday, Davis County Health Department epidemiologist Brian Hatch pre-screened people waiting in line at the Davis Conference Center in Layton before the county's mass vaccination clinic.
Armed with tickets for 2,000 vaccinations at 8:30 a.m., Hatch managed to hand them all out by about 10:15 a.m., said health department spokesman Bob Ballew. When doors opened at 8:45 a.m., all of the ticket holders got their vaccines, and the clinic closed about 11:30 a.m., he said. The procedure will likely be repeated at Davis County's next mass clinic.
In Provo, many people stood in line Tuesday for up to five hours to get the vaccine.
Utah County Health Department spokesman Lance Madigan said the department started turning people away at 11:30 a.m., but the wait was still about two hours long at 2:15 p.m.
"We thought we would get through at least today, but we did a few things to streamline the process, like add an extra station, and we ripped through the vaccine," Madigan said.
The department administered about 4,000 doses, half nasal spray and half injections, he said. The large turnout might have been due to Salt Lake Valley's clinic running out of vaccine so quickly the past weekend.
The Weber-Morgan Health Department began distributing the vaccine to obstetricians, pediatricians and children's health clinics, and it encourages people to contact their medical provider to find out if it is available.
The department's initial shipments of H1N1 vaccine were smaller than expected and limited in their use.
"We acknowledge the public's anxiety in not being able to receive the vaccinations in a timely manner and are working to identify the most effective way to address this delay," said Weber-Morgan health director Gary House.
People eligible for the vaccine now include pregnant women; those who live with or care for children younger than 6 months old; health care or emergency personnel; children 6 months old to young adults 24 years old; and those under age 64 with chronic medical conditions associated with higher risk of medical problems from influenza.
Contributing: Joseph M. Dougherty, Sara Lenz
Can I get a shot?
The vaccine may be available for walk-ins who meet the priority criteria Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or while supplies last at Community Nursing Services, 1255 E. 3900 South, Suite 103. The cost is $20 for either the FluMist or the shot. Call 801-207-8777 to check exact availability.
Each Monday the Weber-Morgan Health Department will accept calls between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. to make vaccination appointments for that week. When a large shipment of vaccine arrives, the department hopes to hold a two-day clinic at Weber State University and also regular clinics at the Weber County Fairgrounds.