State health commissioner wants Hoosiers to treat the flu more seriously

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 14, 2015)-- The flu epidemic has hit Indiana especially hard with 66 flu-related deaths reported so far this season.

"Perhaps people aren't used to seeing this many deaths from the flu. They think 'I can get it, I'll get over it.' But what I want people to understand is it's not just about you, it's about your loved ones," said Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams.

Of the 66 deaths reported, 60 of those people were over the age of 65. The elderly and young children are at a high risk for dying as a result of the flu.

This year's strain is especially dangerous--leaving people sicker longer. Adams says although this years flu shot isn't as effective, the flu shot is still the first line of defense.

"But as we see the death toll go up we want to make sure that we're getting the appropriate message out and that's my concern that we're getting the proper message out that you should get the flu shot and it's even more important you get it this year than in past years," said Adams.

Although the new flu strain is more dangerous there are several strains out there and without the flu shot you heighten your chances of getting sick multiple times this season.

"That's not to say you're not going to get one of the other three or four types that's in the vaccine. So you could have had the most horrible influenza and you could get it again in January with influenza "B" or some of the other strains that are in the vaccine," said infectious disease specialist, Dr. Chris Belcher.

Flu season will be around for a few more months so doctors suggest getting a flu shot if you haven't already. Indiana is the 13th worst in the country when it comes to getting flu vaccines.