Influenza, The Bug That Packs a Punch
Winter in Minnesota brings more than just cold hands and rosy cheeks; it also brings higher rates of common illness like the flu. This years flu season appears to be particularly potent for Minnesota residents, despite the national averages of reported cases being about average, according to the Pioneer Press.
Four Minnesotans have died from Influenza A so far this season, a record number in the last three years. Three children, two aged 8-years-old and a 17-month-old died from Influenza between January 18 and February 1, according to the article. More recently as reported by the Star Tribune, a Minneapolis fire-fighter, Barry Delude, 44, died today of complications of Influenza A after being in the hospital for a couple days.
While 50 percent of the department had received flu shots according to the Star Tribune article, it is unclear whether Delude received one at this point. The three children had not received flu shots this season.
According to another Star Tribune article, federal health officials recommend children in the recently expanded "high priority" group, children under 5, get vaccinated for the flu.
The recent deaths, 4 out of the reported 14 nationally occurring in Minnesota, have spurred a rush for flu vaccinations around the metro. The deaths have also brought up the debate about whether children should be vaccinated for the flu at schools. According to the Star Tribune article, getting to children in time may benefit everyone, and indeed the recent outbreaks are causing debate at the CDC's national advisory committee on immunization policy.
The CDC's website provided information about the sort of people who should be vaccinated, as well as a plethora of other helpful information that includes current flu statistics, and flu clinic locators.
Currently at week five of the flu season, the CDC reports that Influenza activity is on the rise in the United States.
For even further information about influenza, try going to Flu Facts, which features not only a good deal of helpful information, but also uses the penguins from the movie Happy Feet to draw children into learning about the flu.