ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Health officials are urging Minnesotans to get flu shots as soon as possible.

Jennifer Heath of the Minnesota Department of Health tells Minnesota Public Radio the flu season could begin anytime. Only about half of the people eligible get the flu vaccine. If more people got immunized, she says, fewer people would get sick — even people who don’t get vaccinated.

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The flu vaccine is recommended for almost everyone six months of age and older.

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Heath says the vaccine was only about 50 percent effective during the last flu season. Still, experts say people are better off with the vaccination than without it.

The department says 2,522 people in Minnesota were hospitalized with confirmed influenza during the last flu season, and 126 influenza-related deaths were reported, including two children.

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