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Minnesota hospitals battling high flu activity

The Minnesota Department of Health reports nearly 1,150 people have been hospitalized with influenza, surpassing last year's total numbers.

MINNESOTA, USA — The flu is rocking Minnesota healthcare systems which has created concern for what is it to come around the holidays. Allina Health reports its emergency rooms have been reaching capacity causing longer wait times. 

"What is different about this flu season is we are still dealing with COVID and seeing a surge with RSV," Allina Health Vice President Clinical Officer, Ryan Else said. 

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, there has been nearly 1,200 flu hospitalizations this 2022-2023 season, surpassing the total number of hospitalizations last year.

Healthcare workers are urging people to take proper precautions if you start feeling symptoms of the flu: body aches, fevers, sore throat, or a cough.

On Wednesday, the Bertha Hewitt School District joined a list of education systems to switch to remote learning due to hitting its illness threshold.

The health department classifies K-12 school outbreaks by the number of students absent reaching 5% of total enrollment. According to the state, there have been more than 700 flu outbreaks in schools this 2022-2023 season.

 "This is the time of the year people are congregating more indoors, and just in contact more during warmer seasons. It's just that time of the year when these illnesses spread quickly," Else said.

The Centers for Disease Control is reporting more than 44 states are seeing very high or high level of flu activity.

According to the CDC, flu vaccines are down 12% for pregnant women -- compared to this time last year. They've dropped 3% for seniors, and 5% for kids compared to before the pandemic.

The state health department says 33% of Minnesotans have gotten flu shots this year.

"It's never too late to get a flu vaccine shot or covid booster. Both will help you this season," Else said.  

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