The Minnesota Department of Health recently sent out a press release that that this season's state flu status has been elevated from local to regional geographic spread. What this means is that certain areas of the state have seen more flu outbreaks or increases in flu-like illness. About 50 people were hospitalized with the flu in the past couple of weeks. The flu strain has not hit Steele County hard yet, but it's believed we'll see an uptick in cases over the next couple of weeks.

There's some good news and some bad news in regards to this year's strain. It's the same as two years ago, meaning that this year's vaccine is likely to show good results. The bad news is that the strain from a couple of years ago was particularly rough. About 4,000 people were hospitalized, with 10 deaths in Minnesota. One of those deaths was an Owatonna teenager. More than 50 percent of the teens hospitalized had no underlying health conditions when they contracted the flu virus.

Karen Fountain of Steele County Public Health was on AM 1390's Talk of the Town stressing the importance that teens need to be immunized as well as the rest of the general population.

The flu vaccine is available at area businesses, the Owatonna Clinic and walk-in shots are available at Steele County Public Health. Here is the Steele County Public Health website.

Remember that getting a flu shot isn't just for you, it's also for all those who come in contact with you.