PCPH director says there's still time to get vaccinated.

    At the Polk County Commissioners board meeting Tuesday at the Government Center, Polk County Public Health Director Sarah Reese presented on the current status of the influenza season in Minnesota. Although there is a high rate of influenza activity throughout Minnesota, northwest Minnesota shows the lowest number of cases, according the the Minnesota Department of Public Health.

    The most commonly cultured strain of influenza this season is influenza A/H3, a respiratory form of the flu that does not involve stomach symptoms. Current reports from the the sixth week of the 2013 influenza season in Minnesota state that a cumulative 2,703 persons have been hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza thus far. By comparison, only 552 persons were hospitalized during the entire flu season of 2011-2012 and 1,824 hospitalizations occurred during the H1N1 pandemic year of 2009-2010. This year's influenza-related death toll has already reached 136 deaths in Minnesota.

    "If you have had your flu shot, it protects you up to about 60 percent," said Reese. "That is why it is important that everyone who can get a flu shot does, because people with a compromised immune system, people age 65 or older, pregant women and young children or others that can't get the flu shot are that much more susceptible. It is very important that people who haven't gotten the vaccine yet still get it."