FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (WCCO) — Now that September has arrived, the first shipments of the flu vaccine are arriving in Minnesota.

Last winter, we saw one of the worst flu seasons ever in the state. More than 4,000 people in Minnesota had to be hospitalized, and 10 children died.

This time around, health experts are optimistic that the flu vaccine will be more effective, a better match for the strains of flu they expect to see.

Joe Kurland, a vaccine specialist with Children’s Hospitals and Clinics, said on Tuesday that people are much better off with a flu shot than without one.

“The flu vaccine, though it wasn’t perfect and some people still got sick [last year], it does reduce symptoms and make it less severe,” Kurland said.

Each year, the manufacturers of the flu vaccine study what strains are popping up in other parts of the world before the season arrives in the U.S.

They create a vaccine that’s a match.

“Researchers take these investigations and findings and figure out what’s most likely going to show up in our communities, and they make a flu vaccine that will protect against those,” Kurland said.

Last year, the flu virus changed after the vaccine was created, making it less of a good match.

Becky Enger says she got a flu shot last winter, but still got sick.

“I only had to miss one day of work,” she said. “I was able to rebound pretty fast.”

Troy Szczepanski says he got a flu shot last winter, and so did his 3-year-old son. They stayed well.

“We just had a couple of colds,” Szczepanski said. “The flu vaccine really helped us.”

Supplies of the nasal spray flu vaccine are not in yet this year. There’s a delay at the manufacturer.

Currently, researchers are working on a universal, one-time flu vaccine.

That means it’s possible that one day we will be able to get a flu shot that will protect us for a lifetime.

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