Has the flu reached your home this season?

Stacy Fox of Maplewood, left, receives a seasonal influenza vaccine from Karen Schirmer at the HealthPartners Midway Clinic in St. Paul, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009. Jeffrey Thompson/ MPR News 2009

Cases of the flu are now widespread across Minnesota, state Department of Health officials reported Thursday.

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“Preliminary data shows a significant increase in flu activity, with 65 hospitalizations for influenza for the week ending Dec. 6,” writes MPR News health reporter Lorna Benson.

Nineteen schools reported outbreaks of influenza-like illnesses compared to nine school outbreaks the previous week. Long-term care facilities reported four flu outbreaks.

Most of the flu specimens tested in labs were Type A flu viruses. The predominant strain circulating this season is H3N2, which tends to cause more severe flu cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that slightly more than half of the H3N2 viruses are mutated and not well-matched to the current vaccine. But health officials urge vaccination anyway because even mismatched vaccines can provide some protection against flu.

Public health officials are urging people to get vaccinated against the flu this week so they have some protection against the virus in time for the holidays.

Today’s Question: Has the flu reached your home this season?