SALT LAKE CITY — A second Salt Lake County resident has died with the flu.
The death was officially confirmed on Wednesday, though it happened late last week, said Salt Lake County Health Department spokesman Nicholas Rupp. He said the individual was an adult, but younger than 65 and died with other health issues, including influenza.
The confirmation comes just days after the first countywide death was reported, though the first death was a person older than 65, Rupp said.
So far this year, 45 people in Salt Lake County have been hospitalized with the flu and two have died, according to health department data.
At least a dozen hospitalizations have also been reported in Weber and Morgan counties and in Utah County. Up to the end of last week, the data states, there have been eight people hospitalized with influenza in Davis County, and areas of central and southern Utah are also reporting an increase in flu activity. The majority of cases are among the elderly, but at least 40 percent are occurring in people ages 25 to 64.
In years past, there have typically been far more hospitalizations at this point in the flu season, which begins Oct. 1 and extends through May 1. Last year, the county saw 38 deaths from influenza, though a more typical number of deaths resulting from flu is in the 20s for the county.
Flu activity has been slow to take off this year, but Rupp said there has been a marked increase in reported incidences since the beginning of this month.
Last year, when the vaccine was not a good match for the actual illness circulating, more people became affected, Rupp said, however, "even a poorly matched vaccine provides protection and is better than nothing."
The health department encourages prevention by way of vaccination, and flu vaccines are recommended for everyone 6 months and older every year, as they are matched each year to strains expected to circulate throughout the population of the United States. Influenza strains can grow resistant or change, and Rupp said people need an updated vaccination to receive the utmost protection.
And some need it even more than others.
"The very young, the old and the immunocompromised tend to be more likely to suffer serious complications from influenza that result in hospitalization and/or death," Rupp said.
The latest flu death occurred in an individual who experienced other comorbidities and died outside of the county, hence the delay in reporting, Rupp said.
This year, flu shots seemed at first to be less popular, but the health department cannot track shots given at local pharmacies, health practitioner offices and/or at the workplace, through contracted providers. It only reports vaccines offered at the public health clinic locations, and that number has been declining since more convenient locations started popping up in 2011.
"The vaccine is much better this year," Rupp said, adding that it has "clearly been effective."