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Though flu activity peaked about seven weeks ago, Lincoln and Nebraska are still in the midst of the winter flu season.

People continue to go to the hospital. In fact, 161 people were admitted to Lincoln hospitals for the week ending Feb. 9 for flu-related illness, or 18.1 percent of Lincoln hospital admissions. Numbers for that week are the latest and were released Friday.

People continue to die from the flu. Fifty-three people have died in the state, including three children. Six adults have died in Lancaster County.

Douglas County reported two recent flu-related deaths.

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office said 51-year-old Deputy Dave Wintle died Thursday morning at an Omaha hospital. Officials say the 29-year veteran of the department experienced trouble breathing Thursday before he was taken to the hospital.

Also, the Douglas County Health Department said Thursday that it has confirmed the county's first pediatric death of this flu season, although it didn't say when the child died.

The flu peaked in late December, but flu-related illness is still up there at a pretty high level, said Dr. Tom Safranek, the state epidemiologist.

He said medical officials are not overly concerned about the Tamiflu supply and emergency rooms aren’t being overloaded.

But the timing of the peak doesn’t matter if you're one of the people who got sick this week, Safranek said.

So the traditional advice continues. If you are in a high-risk group, with underlying health problems or pregnant or going to be pregnant in the next six weeks, you should get a vaccination, Safranek said.

A vaccination remains the best way of reducing the chance of getting the flu and the shot has no side effects, he said.

For everyone else, good hand-washing is the best advice. And if you're sick, self-isolate so you don’t spread the flu.

Nationally, the flu shot was about 47 percent effective overall against influenza illness, according to this week's report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But Safranek warned that research may not apply in Nebraska, where influenza A is dominant. Most of the country is seeing much more influenza B.

Even if the flu shot doesn’t prevent someone from getting the flu, it still reduces the severity of the illness and prevents hospitalization and deaths.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSNancyHicks.

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Reporter

Nancy Hicks reports on Lincoln city government, but she’s been following the leaders of local and state government for more than 40 years.

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