Flu season at its worst since 2013

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In the last week, hospitalizations of children under five have nearly doubled and there were seven more pediatric deaths, bringing the season total to 20.

Dr. Spire said they've seen a 40% spike in sick patients this flu season.

The Minnesota Department of Health now officially categorizes the outbreak as as "widespread", with more than 1,765 hospitalizations over the last 12 weeks-more than 10 times the amount from previous year.

"Flu is everywhere in the USA right now", Jernigan said. "When Influenza A H3N2 is the prominent strain, it tends to be more a little bit more genetically unstable".

Official effectiveness data on this season's flu vaccine will not be available until the middle of next month.

Grey said the CDC typically takes a look at the strains of flu going around the world to create the vaccine.

"The CDC is definitely telling everybody to still get the flu shot, that there is a benefit", Grayson said, may it be faster recovery time, milder symptoms and more.

"Once you start knowing that you're having the high fevers, and fatigue, and body aches along with the sore throat and cough, it's always a good idea to contact your doctor sooner because there are some medications that can be given", he said.

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Jernigan said this year's flu cycle has included more cases of the H3N2 strain of the virus, influenza A, which is usually more severe and hard to contain. "January is not too late to get a flu shot, and in fact, as long as flu is still circulating in the community, those who have not received a shot can still get one".

Doctors and health officials continue to recommend parents to have flu shots administered to their children.

"Whenever [H3N2] shows up, it causes lots of disease, lots of hospitalizations, lots of cases and lots of deaths", Jernigan said.

2014 represents the worst flu season in the past decade with 4,138 total cases.

You may have heard that the flu that's doing the most damage this year is an H3N2 strain, and that it is less vulnerable to the vaccine. After consultation and request from healthcare and public health partners, ADHS is advising ill people to only seek emergency medical care if they are at high risk for serious complications or are experiencing severe symptoms.

"It's the simple thing", they said - like washing your hands, covering your mouth, getting a flu shot - that can help stop the spread of the flu.

"Now is the time to get your flu vaccine if you have not already", said Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious disease at the Minnesota Department of Health.

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