Minnesota’s flu season has finally arrived

Our old foe has officially arrived.

Our old foe has officially arrived. Getty Images/iStockphoto

We were different, more innocent Minnesotans two weeks ago. We’d been capering through an unusually mild flu season, reveling in our paltry 116 hospitalizations, breathing free air through our unstuffed noses.

Well, gird your loins, sweet summer children. The proper flu season the Minnesota Department of Health promised is finally here. As of the end of last week, the flu is now officially “widespread” across our state.

After a slight uptick in flu cases in the metro area in mid-January, the overall number of flu-related hospitalizations has shot up to 218, and there have been 14 outbreaks in Minnesota schools.

This isn’t even the anticipated height of this year’s flu season, Minnesota Department of Health epidemiologist Karen Martin told Fox 9. Flu cases are expected to “increase in the next few weeks,” reaching a “peak” within a month or so.

Luckily, this year’s most active strains seem to be similar to what’s in this season’s flu shot. It’s worth repeating, Martin says: It is “never too late” to get one.

And remember – getting vaccinated doesn’t just affect whether you get sick, it also affects everyone else. Flu kills hundreds of people every year in our state alone; last year’s particularly nasty season caused more than 6,400 hospitalizations and 435 deaths.

So, get your shot, wash your hands, and buckle up. Things are going to get worse before they get better.