MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – New figures released by the Minnesota Department of Health show the flu continues to be widespread.

Last week there were 186 hospitalizations, down nine from the previous week.

But experts say that does not reflect a decrease because many cases from last week have yet to be officially reported.

Doctors who spoke with WCCO say many people who have gotten the flu this year were laid up for at least a week.

While the effectiveness of this year’s flu shot won’t be known for months, many doctors say most of those getting sick have not had the vaccine.

One exception is in sick children who got one flu vaccine shot but did not get their booster shot.

In general, children under eight need two doses of the vaccine a month apart. Health care professionals are united when it comes to this advice.

Dr. Kevin Gilliam of NorthPoint Health and Wellness Clinic says he makes sure his own family is immunized.

“Get the flu shot. I got mine, my daughter got hers, my wife got hers,” Gilliam said. “It’s the best protection that we have outside of, you know, washing your hands and being vigilant about infection control.”

The surge in cases is also being seen across the country. One piece of encouraging news so far is that there have been no cases of flu-related deaths in young children in Minnesota.

Even though the flu is widespread, Minnesotans are in much better shape than last year, which was a record year in Minnesota for the flu.

At this time last year, there were three times as many flu hospitalizations.

Esme Murphy