During a January snowfall, most people are worried about trying to navigate their way through sloppy streets. But for healthcare professionals, they're concerned about a potential influx of flu activity.
"According to the Minnesota Department of Health, they've seen enough cases here to alert that we have now jumped from a rare situation to a more upgraded, concerning level," said Dr. Bryan Nelson from the HCMC Clinic in Golden Valley.
As of January 10, Nelson says he hasn't seen any patients with the flu just yet. However, he admits it's just a matter of time before influenza comes to Minnesota.
State officials agree, which is why they urge people to get their flu shots now if they haven't already.
"When I see a patient lately, I say, 'this is probably your last, best opportunity to be able to get the flu vaccine and still be covered for the flu that's upcoming,'" Nelson said.
Dr. Nelson is making that plea because it takes about two weeks for the vaccination to kick in. His staff members say they administer about 10 to 15 flu shots a day.
"Two-thirds of individuals say, 'eh, I'll worry about it later,'" Nelson said. "And that's kind of how we are as people. That if it's out of sight, it's out of mind."
It's a nonchalant attitude for a vaccination that protects people against a virus that ranks as the eighth leading cause of death, which also comes with a variety of unpleasant symptoms.
"Generally with the flu you feel sore throat, cough, high fevers, muscle aches, and that lasts usually five to seven days for most individuals," Nelson said.
Because of the misery, and threat of death for people with weakened immune systems, Dr. Nelson hopes more people heed the call to get the vaccine.
"My opinion is, now is the time to get the flu shot," he said. "If you have an opportunity, please get the flu shot."
State health officials say that this year's flu vaccine appears to be a good match for the main strain of influenza that's circulating this season.
Jan. 10, 2017