60 New Flu Minn. Deaths, FDA Approves New Vaccine

Updated: 01/17/2013 6:49 PM KSTP.com By: Cassie Hart

Flu-related deaths continue to rise in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Health on Thursday confirmed 33 more flu-related deaths, raising the state's death toll this season to 60.

Since the start of the flu season, more than 1,800 people have been hospitalized in Minnesota with confirmed influenza.

Health officials say 476 people were hospitalized in Minnesota with confirmed influenza last week. But the Health Department says there's nothing unusual about the situation.

Kris Ehresmann, the department's infectious disease director, tells Minnesota Public Radio News that while flu numbers are much higher than recent seasons, that's also a reflection on how mild recent flu seasons have been in comparison.

92 Minnesota schools reported outbreaks in the past week.
254 schools have reported outbreaks since the beginning of the flu season.

A school has to report an outbreak to the department of health when at least 5-percent of the student population is absent.

New Vaccine

The FDA approved a new seasonal flu vaccine that can be produced faster than the current vaccine.
the US Food and Drug Administration has approved "FluBlok".
Unlike current flu vaccines, FluBlok doesn't use the flu virus grown in chicken eggs in production.
Instead insect cells are programmed and grown in steel tanks
That means it can be produced weeks faster in case of a pandemic.
It could also be good for people who don't get flu shots because they're allergic to eggs.

(The Associated Press Contributed to this report.)