Flu-related death toll climbs to 11 in Indiana

The Indiana State Department of Health announced on Friday that the number of influenza-related deaths in the state recently reached 11, including six in St. Joseph County.

The department said that no other county in Indiana reported more than one death. Health officials said that all but one of the deaths occurred in individuals between the ages of 25 and 64.

"Although not typically considered to be a high risk group, young and middle-aged adults have been hit fairly hard this flu season," William VanNess, the Indiana state health commissioner, said. "Flu season can last until April, so I want to stress that it isn't too late to get vaccinated."

There are two vaccine combinations available for the 2013-14 flu season, including the trivalent and quadrivalent vaccines. The trivalent vaccine protects against the three most common strains of influenza: H3N2, H1N1 and one strain of influenza B. The quadrivalent vaccine includes a second influenza B strain. The H1N1 strain appears to be the predominant flu strain this season.

The department recommends flu vaccination for anyone six months of age or older, particularly for those at higher risk of flu complications. Risk groups include young children, people with chronic illnesses and/or compromised immune systems, pregnant women and the elderly.

"Hoosiers cannot become complacent when it comes to the flu," VanNess said. "I strongly recommend all Hoosiers get vaccinated if you haven't done so yet. Flu is very unpredictable."