Minnesotans Urged To Get Vaccinated To Prevent Influenza

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Minnesota has recorded its first culture-confirmed case of influenza for the 2007-08 season in a 44-year-old woman from Dakota County. The woman's illness was caused by the B/Shanghai-like strain of the virus, the Minnesota Department of Health reported today. The woman's virus is a good match for this year's vaccine, health officials said. The specimen was submitted by the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview.

While there have been reports of influenza cases around the state already this year, this announcement marks the official start of flu season in Minnesota. It's also a reminder that it's time to seek influenza vaccination, if you haven't already.

"Identifying influenza in the laboratory helps us know which strains are circulating and tells us how well this year's vaccine will protect people from influenza and its complications," said Kristen Ehresmann, section chief for immunizations at MDH. "Those who get influenza vaccination in November and December, and even into January, should be fully protected against influenza when the season peaks," she said.

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Widespread influenza activity in Minnesota usually peaks in February, but cases can occur as late as May. Flu season may be off to a slightly earlier start than usual this year; the first flu case historically has been confirmed most often in late November or early December. "So now is a good time to get immunized," Ehresmann said.

Influenza vaccination is important for anyone who wants to avoid influenza - regardless of age or health status, health officials said. A flu vaccine also may help you avoid giving influenza to others during the upcoming holiday season.

Health officials strongly recommend that people who are most at risk for complications from influenza get an annual flu shot. Those most at risk include:

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