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DULUTH - Numbers released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Health confirm 27 people have died as a result of influenza while the Twin Ports area has experienced at least six deaths since the start of the season.
The virus is overwhelming local hospitals and doctors are urging everyone to get a flu shot.
More than 1,100 people have been hospitalized with confirmed cases of influenza in Minnesota.
It is an uptick local hospitals are trying to keep up with.
"We are really at surge capacity," Dr. Linda Van Etta from St. Luke's Infectious Disease Associates said. "Our urgent cares are busy, our clinics are being overwhelmed."
Of the 27 flu–related deaths this season in Minnesota, 23 happened last week alone.
An entire ward has been set up to treat patients at St. Luke's.
Dr. Linda Van Etta said a simple flu shot could have helped keep the numbers down.
"We really strongly encourage that, there's no shortage of vaccine this year," Dr. Van Etta said.
Still, many are unsure if they will get the shot.
"Probably not," Curtis Teberg said. "I have never had a flu shot and so far, luckily I've never had the flu."
"In the past I have but I just haven't really needed it so there hasn't been a need yet," Dave Roden said. "But once I started feeling sick I probably would."
Dr. Van Etta said this year's vaccine is matches most of common flu strains, unlike 2009 when H1N1 broke out rapidly.
"The difference is we have very effective vaccine and that's why we strongly encourage people to still get the vaccine," Dr. Van Etta said. "It's not too late."
Dr. Van Etta said it is still possible to get the flu even if someone has had the vaccine, but odds are that it would not be nearly as bad.
While the flu does not always lead to extremes, she said it is not worth taking lightly.
"Even if you don't end up with complications, don't end up in the hospital, don't end up dying, you are sign ill in bed for a number of days," Dr. Van Etta said.
Anyone more than six months old can get the flu shot, and people with any underlying conditions are strongly encouraged to do so.
More information on walk-up clinics being set up by Essentia Health can be found under the "links" tab.