Flu activity increases across Minnesota

By John Michaelson
Minnesota News Connection

With flu activity on the rise across the state, doctors are urging residents to protect themselves by getting vaccinated.

Jennifer Heath, immunization outreach nurse specialist with the Minnesota Department of Health, says among the strains now circulating is the H1N1 virus that emerged in 2009 and mostly impacted adults and school aged children.

“Children are always an important risk group to be vaccinated, but certainly with the 2009 H1N1, we could see more children getting ill,” she said.

Heath adds the H1N1 strain is among those covered with this year’s flu vaccine.

It is recommended for everyone ages six months and older, and doctors say it’s especially important for those who have regular contact with high-risk populations.

That includes pregnant women, people with chronic health problems, young children and the elderly.

Heath says key to helping prevent the spread, is for those who are ill to stay home from work, and the same with children in school or child care settings, where it can quickly spread from a couple of cases to an outbreak.

“They’re in close quarters and they are sharing items, so it is a Petri dish, not only for flu but for a lot of other respiratory viruses as well,” she said.

Heath says some basic hygiene can also help a person avoid getting the flu or spreading it to others, including covering your cough and regular hand washing.