By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The number of flu cases is up sharply in Minnesota.

Last week, there were 144 flu-related hospitalizations across the state. That’s up from 118 the week before.

The increased cases have Fairview Health Services screening visitors at its seven hospitals. Visitors with the flu are being asked not to visit patients at Fairview Hospitals and visitors who do show up will be screened for flu symptoms.

Fairview says it wants protect patients those who are sick or have compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable.

Steven Meisel is Fairview’s Director of Patient Safety.

“We are really just asking patients and visitors to do the same thing that we are asking our employees. If you’re sick, stay home. People at the hospital are already sick and if they come down with the flu, well that just makes their recovery that much more difficult,” Meisel said.

The increase in Minnesota is part of a national trend of an increase in flu cases nationwide. Cases are up at local clinics, including Hennepin County Medical Center’s facility in Brooklyn Center.

Dr. Kartika Bhardwaj says the good news is that this year’s flu shot does appear to be working. The exception was a 20-month-old baby who had gotten her flu shot, but not the booster, and became sick.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends children being vaccinated for the first time should get two flu vaccines one month apart.

Bhardwaj says she still has to convince patients to get the vaccine. Many worry that it will give them the flu.

“They blame the flu shot for the flu. That is not true. The real flu – influenza – boy, you are sick,” Bhardwaj said.

Bhardwaj says if you get the flu, expect to be out of commission for one to two weeks, which is exactly why Fairview has taken its precautions.

Bhardwaj and other medical professionals say there is still time to get the flu shot, but remember it takes two weeks to become fully effective.


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