Minnesota reports second flu death

A second death attributable to the flu was reported on October 18 in Minnesota, with state health officials issuing an advisory in response.

The victim was a woman in her 80s who lived in a Southeast Minnesota nursing home. Her death comes shortly after a similar case in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, according to

"It's extremely important for health care workers and those who live with or care for an elderly person to get the flu vaccine," Lois Ahern, director of Freeborn County Public Health, said, reports. "In Minnesota, we historically have a rate of about 70 percent of health care workers who are immunized. We can do better."

To provide an incentive to get vaccinated, the Austin Medical Center, located in Austin, Minnesota, offers its staff free shots. The policy has been highly successful, according to Kathy Stratton, AMC’s infection and control nurse.

“Last year, from the medical center, we were at 92 percent,” Stratton said, according to Stratton considers immunization crucial to protecting people from the flu. "Not only to protect themselves, but other patients and even their families at home so you don't take it home to them."

It is still too early to witness a widespread outbreak of the flu. Its peak season usually lasts from December to January or February. Nonetheless, cases can appear.

"It's not unusual to see some clusters of influenza outbreaks in facilities where there are people living in a closed space." Ahern said, reports.