BOISE — Fifteen flu-related deaths have been reported in Idaho since the beginning of the flu season Oct. 1, public health officials announced Wednesday.

All of the people that have died from the illness in the state were older than 50. Ten flu-related deaths were reported in southwest Idaho, one in north Idaho and two in eastern Idaho. Two of the reported deaths were not residents of the state.

“Our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones because of complications from the flu,” Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, deputy state epidemiologist, said. “Influenza activity is still high, and as long as the virus is circulating in our communities, the best protection for you and your family is to get the vaccine.”

The Department of Health and Welfare said there is plenty of pediatric vaccine available, but adults should call ahead to make sure vaccine is available.

People most at risk for severe illness caused by the flu include those who are pregnant, have diabetes, asthma and heart disease, those with compromised immune systems and the elderly.

Severe flu symptoms include a fever above 100 degrees, fast or trouble breathing, bluish or gray skin, pain or pressure in the chest or stomach area, sudden dizziness, confusion and severe or persistent vomiting.

Anyone experiencing these symptoms or people who are at a higher risk of severe complications should see a healthcare provider.

In addition to getting a flu shot, the DHW recommends washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes and avoiding others who appear ill to avoid spreading the virus.

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