Another 12 flu-related deaths were confirmed in Minnesota last week, even as other indicators suggested that the state’s flu outbreak continues to wane.
Nine schools reported flu outbreaks in the week ending Feb. 16, down from 22 the previous week, the Minnesota Department of Health said in its weekly influenza update. And 59 people were hospitalized with flu symptoms, down from 72 the week before.
So far this year, 148 flu-related deaths have been confirmed in Minnesota, making this the deadliest flu season in several years. Most deaths have occurred among elderly patients.
Data tracked by the Health Department suggest the outbreak peaked in early January — when more than 600 people were hospitalized with flu symptoms in one week.
New research released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control suggests that the flu vaccine may be only 9 percent effective for elderly patients, who often have reduced immune systems. But for most patients, the vaccine is estimated to be 60 percent effective, and state health officials say it’s still worth getting a flu shot.