Five more Utahns have died after contracting the H1N1 flu despite the fact that the rate of influenza-like-illness statewide continues to drop.
In its weekly report issued Wednesday, the Utah Department of Health said a Salt Lake Valley woman age 50-64 died between Nov. 8 and Nov. 14, the latest reporting period. Four other people died previously, but their deaths were not reported to state officials in a timely manner.
They include two other Salt Lake Valley residents, a male age 50-64 and a female age 25-49; a Utah County female age 65-plus; and a male age 25-49 from southeastern Utah.
Charla Haley, spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Health, said while the state is still above "epidemic stage" in the number of people contracting H1N1, the rate of "influenza-like-illness" being reported dropped from 4.7 to 3.5 during the most recent reporting period.
"That's down for the third week in a row," she said.
Intermountain Medical Center spokesman Jess Gomez said IHC hospitals have seen things "easing up" on a daily basis in their emergency departments and in the number of people being hospitalized.
"It's been a significant decrease in the past two weeks. We're hoping for the best and also preparing for the next wave," he said. "We'd like to see this as a long-term trend but we can't predict" what it will do in the next several weeks.
State numbers show 24 people were hospitalized with flu-like symptoms within the last reporting period, and another 51 hospitalizations occurred prior to that time but were not reported until the most recent week. Those numbers are down significantly from mid- to late October.
State officials are now seeing a small increase in the amount of seasonal flu being tested and reported, with 4.5 percent of the samples testing positive for seasonal flu rather than H1N1.
As of Tuesday, health care providers statewide had administered 228,367 doses of the H1N1 vaccine, which is still arriving in weekly shipments though the supply is limited.
Salt Lake County supplies are available at local pharmacies and health care providers, in addition to county health clinics. See the web site at www.slvhealth.org/h1n1/vaccine.html for a list of private health care providers who have the vaccine or to get information on how to use the vaccine reservation system. Appointments tend to go quickly each Tuesday morning when the reservation system opens to residents.
In Davis County, 14,000 doses of the vaccine will be given during flu clinics on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday, but those receiving it must pick up a ticket in advance, showing the date and time for the vaccination.
Those tickets will be available today (Thursday) from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Bountiful Regional Center, 835 N. 400 East, North Salt Lake; and the Legacy Events Center, 151 S. 1100 West, Farmington.
Vaccination clinics will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at the Davis Conference Center, 800 W. Heritage Park Blvd., Layton.
Tickets are only available for immediate household members who meet the priority guidelines: pregnant, a household contact or caregiver for a child younger than 6 months, age 6 months to 24 years, a health-care or emergency medical services worker, or age 25 to 64 with a high risk for complications from influenza.
Utah County residents are also using an advance ticketing system to access the vaccine. Check the county health department web site (www.UtahCountyHealth.org) or call the UCHD hotline at 801-851-2222 for vaccine availability updates. The next ticket availability is expected to be Nov. 23 for vaccination on Nov. 24.
Tickets are available on a first-come first-served basis beginning at 8 a.m. at 151 S. University Ave. in Provo.
Health officials both locally and nationally said the vaccine will not be offered to the general population until those in the higher risk groups who want the vaccine have been immunized.