The Arkansas Health Department recorded almost 30 more flu-related deaths over the past week, bringing the total number this season to 122.
"This is a very hard season", said Anne Schuchat, acting director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Officials said the vast majority of reported cases - 78 percent - are in residents who have not been vaccinated for the flu this season. "We continue to recommend the flu vaccine even though we know most flu vaccines have low effectiveness against H3N2 viruses, effectiveness against other flu viruses is better, and there is more than one flu virus circulating this season".
Influenza-associated pediatric deaths are required to be reported to the health department, but the department can not discuss the specifics of individual cases.
"When people get to the extremes of ages, around 80 years old, often times they don't respond really well to the flu shot and they still get it". Infants and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to the flu. Of all 51 flu-related deaths in the state of Idaho, 29 were recorded in the Panhandle district, more than half of that total.
Department Director Nate Smith said the majority of flu-related deaths are reported after the peak of transmission, which hasn't arrived yet.
The MDHHS stressed that the flu vaccine is the best way to prevent getting the flu and can also reduce the severity of flu illness; and the CDC recommends that everyone six months of age and older get a flu shot.
Susan Burchill, a spokeswoman with Wesley Healthcare, 550 N. Hillside, confirmed that the hospital has had two pediatric deaths from the flu.
Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, and sometime diarrhea or vomiting.
Try to avoid close contact with sick people. This disease is spread through discharges from the nose and mouth and it is important that people keep a good respiratory hygiene to control the spread.