The Minnesota Department of Health has reported the first flu-related death of the season.
The victim was a man in his 60s who had underlying health problems.
Kris Ehresmann, the agency's director of infectious disease, said the season will probably seem much worse than the previous two years, which were unusually mild. The vaccine is a good match for the strains of flu that are circulating, she said.
"It's not too late to get vaccinated, so if individuals have been waiting to make sure that influenza really comes to Minnesota, it has arrived, it's really happening," Ehresmann said. "We encourage people to take advantage of the influenza vaccine."
Flu outbreaks have spiked over the last week or so, Ehresmann said. Such early activity is unusual she said.
Six nursing homes and 47 schools reported outbreaks last week. Since October, 165 people in Minnesota have been hospitalized with confirmed cases of influenza.
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