Minnesota Death: Doctors Stress Flu Vaccine

Brandon Weathers
Created: November 01, 2019 05:25 PM

With the first flu death in Minnesota being reported at the end of October, flu season is beginning.

Dr. Stephen Carlson is a family practice doctor at the West Duluth Essentia Health Clinic. Carlson said, "That's really early. We don't usually start seeing that kind of intensity until probably middle or end of November."

However, doctors say overall flu activity is low. St. Luke's infectious diseases physician Dr. Andrew Thompson said, "Usually at this point in the year there is very low flu activity. Now, we fully expect that to change in the next 8 to 12 weeks, no one can tell exactly when."

Every year is different, but to get an idea of what we can expect, doctors look to patterns on the other side of the world to Australia. Dr. Thompson said, "They had a fairly bad and early flu season. So we'll see if that holds true for us." Dr. Carlson said, “The flu strains that were in Australia hopefully are what are in our vaccines, so it should be an effective vaccine. That’s what we’re hoping.”

Whatever comes our way, how can we prevent it? While hand hygiene is always encouraged, it won't keep you from getting the flu. "The influenza virus is a respiratory virus. It's not contagious by touching something. It's contagious by walking into a room where somebody has put it into the atmosphere," Dr. Carlson said.

So doctors are urging people to get vaccinated, and soon, since the vaccines don't kick in right away. Dr. Thompson said, "You've got to get a flu shot at least a few weeks before there's flu activity to get that full protection."


Brandon Weathers

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