ST. PAUL, Minn. -- In the last several days, Minnesota health officials have gone from describing the state's flu season as "moderate" to "serious."
But all along they've maintained the flu vaccine remains the best possible tool to deal with the potent virus.
"It's not as good as we'd like, but right now it's the best tool that we have to provide people an option for protection," said Kris Ehresmann, Director for Infectious Disease for the Minnesota Department of Health.
Ehresmann rebutted concerns that this year's vaccine did not cover the most potent flu strains circulating throughout the state.
"The strains that are circulating are very much the strains that are included in the vaccine. It's just the vaccine isn't 100 percent effective, so you can be vaccinated and still develop influenza," Erhressmann said.
According to the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, development of the flu vaccine starts with a body within the World Health Organization. That group monitors flu activity throughout the world to develop a "trivalent" vaccine, featuring the three most potent strains.
In the last week alone, 401 people in the state have been hospitalized for flu-like illness, bringing the total to 1,121 hospitalizations. The state has also seen 27 deaths and 28 outbreaks of the flu in long-term care facilities.
At this point, health officials are not predicting a flu vaccine shortage. Still they urge people to take precautions now.
"If you don't get the vaccine you're a total sitting duck for influenza," Ehresmann said.
For more information on a vaccine provider near you, just go to: http://flushot.healthmap.org/
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