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Minnesota reports 2 more pediatric flu-related deaths this season

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Two more pediatric flu-related deaths have been reported in Minnesota this year, bringing the total this season to three.

That’s according to the latest flu figures released by the Minnesota Department of Health Thursday for the week ending March 12.

Health officials do not release the age of the children for privacy reasons.

The flu, which started off slow this year, became widespread at the end of February as the number of cases grew.

But the number of flu-related hospitalizations is starting to trend downward, data show. In the week ending March 10, there were 170 flu-related hospitalizations, compared to 207 the week before.

So far this season, 843 people have been hospitalized with flu-related symptoms.

In the 2014-15 flu season, 10 children died from an influenza-related illness and 4,153 people were hospitalized with the flu, statistics show.

It was one of the worst flu seasons Minnesota had seen in years, due in part to the flu shot being only 23 percent effective – it wasn’t well-matched to the strain of flu virus that was going around, so many people who got the shot still got sick.

Flu vaccine is 60 percent effective

Health officials believe this year’s flu season will be more mild than previous years, due in part to the flu season’s late start and because this year’s vaccine was found to be 60 percent effective, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention news release said.

“This means that getting a flu vaccine this season reduced the risk of having to go to the doctor because of flu by nearly 60 percent,” Joseph Bresee, M.D., chief of CDC’s Epidemiology and Prevention Branch said in the release. “It’s good news and underscores the importance and the benefit of both annual and ongoing vaccination efforts this season.”

Here’s the effectiveness for some of the most common strains of the virus:

  • 51 percent effective against H1N1 (the virus that’s responsible for most flu illnesses this season, the CDC says).
  • 76 percent effective against all influenza B viruses.
  • 79 percent effective against the B/Yamagata line of B viruses.

Those are among the three most common flu strains that have required hospitalizations in Minnesota so far this season (see graph below).

For more on this year’s flu season, visit the Minnesota Department of Health’s website here, or check out the CDC’s website, which provides information on the flu nationwide.

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