Updated (5:30 p.m., 01/17/13): The Minnesota Department of Health is reporting that 33 additional people have died, which makes for a season total of 60 flu-related deaths.
Recent data released by the MDH Thursday reveals that 1,842 people have been hospitalized due to influenza.
Areas across the state are experiencing an influx of influenza cases and Oakdale is no exception.
The HealthEast Oakdale Clinic has been "extraordinarily busy" for the past two weeks, according to Dr. Todd Smith, the regional medical director for HealthEast. Smith's primary clinic is in Cottage Grove, but he also oversees Oakdale and Stillwater clinics.
"We've certainly seen an uptick in influenza cases," Smith said. "It's a tough spot because there seems to be a strain that even people who get the flu shot this year are getting influenza. It's a difficult message to relay."
Smith said that even though some people who have received the flu shot have also gotten influenza that the shot will still temper down the severity of influenza.
Smith has some advice if you are planning on getting the flu vaccine: Call first.
"Call to see if they have a supply," Smith said. "I think a lot of pharmacies still have them, but it's getting low too."
People have the choice between receiving a flu shot or a flu mist, which is applied up the nose, Smith said.
The flu vaccine does not prevent or treat the stomach flu. It also does not cause the flu, Smith added.
"It's a big myth out there that it causes the flu," Smith said. "It's not activated, so it simply can't."
Related: Flu Rates Skyrocket in Minnesota; 27 Deaths Now Reported
You can still protect yourself from influenza and limit the spread of the disease.
State health officials say it’s not too late: “If you haven’t yet been vaccinated, get vaccinated for influenza.”
If you're considering getting a flu vaccine, here are some places in Oakdale that offer the vaccine:
- HealthEast Oakdale Clinic
- Target pharmacy
During flu season, besides getting vaccinated, there are other steps people can take to avoid spreading or catching influenza:
- Stay home when ill.
- Cover your cough
- Clean your hands after coughing or sneezing.
- Treat symptoms with over the counter medications.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the following information about the flu vaccine:
- Who should get vaccinated
- When to get vaccinated
- Selecting a flu vaccine
- Symptoms, complications and severity
- Treatment if you get the flu
- How flu spreads
The symptoms of influenza, which tend to come on suddenly, can include a sore throat, coughing, fever, headache, muscle aches and fatigue. People who become severely ill or those at risk for severe disease with influenza, who have influenza-like symptoms contact their healthcare provider promptly.