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Minnesota flu season ramping up after slow start

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Flu shots at the state fair
Beverly Rogness, right, of the Minnesota Visiting Nurses Association gives a flu shot to Jack Nessen of Turtle Lake, WI, in the KARE 11 Health Fair area at the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul in August.
Courtney Perry for MPR News 2015

Minnesota could be entering the peak weeks for seasonal flu after a fairly light fall and winter. State officials say 72 people were hospitalized last week for flu complications.

"Our hospitalizations are increasing," said state Health Department Epidemiologist Karen Martin, who oversees statewide flu surveillance. "The percent positivity of our laboratory tests have increased significantly."

It's too early to tell whether this season will be mild, severe or somewhere in between, she added.

The flu vaccine is considered a good match against the circulating flu strains. Last year's vaccine performed poorly during an especially severe flu season.

So far, the H1N1 virus is the dominant flu strain and this year's vaccine offers protection against that strain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently said the flu vaccine is about 60 percent effective overall this season.