By Amy Wadas

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — We are only halfway through flu season and seven deaths have already been reported in Allegheny County.

They all range in age from 55 to 100, both men and women. Experts say everyone who died had underlying medical conditions.

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“Unfortunately we are expecting more deaths,” Medical Epidemiologist with the Allegheny County Health Department Kristen Mertz said.

That’s why health officials are still recommending that everyone get the shot. However, some say they protect themselves in other ways too.

“I am washing my hands more frequently. I try to stay warm, from a lot of common areas like door knobs and things like that. No vaccine, I do know that,” Michael Zaharko said.

“I don’t take anything really. I don’t take the shot. I just take vitamins,” Rufus Ward said.

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“Getting enough sleep, drinking lots of fluids, kind of just taking care of yourself,” Chelsea Reiff-Swartz said.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends doctors use antivirals, like Tamiflu, on people who are at risk for complications, like the elderly. The elderly should call their doctor right away if they get sick.

“Antivirals are also recommended for nursing homes that are seeing outbreaks. It’s recommended those facilities treat residents with antivirals if there is an outbreak in a facility because that can stem an outbreak more quickly,” Mertz said.

The Allegheny County Health Department says there have been over 500 hospitalizations this season so far. That’s a lot more than the 300 reported last season.

Experts recommend basic hygiene. That means washing your hands frequently, coughing in your elbow or shoulder and staying home from work or school if you are sick so you don’t get others sick.

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