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U.S., Utah See Low Turnout For Flu Vaccinations

About 37 percent of Utahns aged 18-65 were vaccinated during the 2012-2013 flu season, according to a study that used data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This puts Utah at 27th in the nation for percentage of adults vaccinated, with Massachusetts in first and Florida last.

Rachelle Boulton is an epidemiologist for the Utah Department of Health. She said some people don’t get vaccinated because they don’t see the flu as a threat.

“They almost feel it like the common cold, you know, ‘Oh, If I get it I’ll be sick, and that stinks,’ or whatnot," Boulton said. "Part of it is that they really don’t see the harm from the disease."

In contrast, children aged six months to 17 years old were vaccinated more than adults. About 56 percent of children in the U.S. and 43 percent of children in Utah received a vaccine last year.

This year’s flu season is in full effect in Utah. As of early January, 369 Utahns have been hospitalized with influenza.

Boulton said H1N1 is the most common strain of influenza this year. She said it’s concerning that the strain is affecting adults age 25-49, an age group that generally doesn’t experience severe influenza.

“Whenever you have high H1N1 circulation, you really want those individuals protected because they really do suffer the brunt of the severity,” she said.

More information on this year’s flu season in Utah can be found at the Utah Department of Health's seasonal influenza webpage or the CDC's weekly influenza surveillance report. The study from the Trust for America's Health can be found here.

-Eric is a senior studying broadcast journalism at Utah State University.