More than 200 people were hospitalized with the flu in Minnesota last week as the number of cases continued to soar, the state Health Department reported on Thursday.

The final week of December also saw a rising number of flu outbreaks at nursing homes and two additional deaths, according to the Health Department's weekly update.

In all, 578 people have been hospitalized statewide and four have died since October, when the first flu cases of the season were reported.

Here's the breakdown for the last week of December:

• 226 people hospitalized, up from 123 the week before.

• 17 outbreaks at nursing facilities, up from two the week before.

• No school outbreaks because of winter break.

"What's different about this year is that we're getting hit hard and we're getting hit early," said state epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield.

Health officials say that there is plenty of flu vaccine available and that it isn't too late to get vaccinated.