CHICAGO (CBS) — Four children have died from the flu in Illinois so far this season, officials said Friday.

Two of the cases are from Lake County and the other two from Chicago. The ages of the patients and when they died, was not immediately available.

This is the worst flu season for Illinois since 2009, according to statistics from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Of the most serious cases so far, 1,384 patients have been admitted to ICUs. The majority of those patients are over age 65.

“Illinois saw an increase in influenza-like-illness last week across the state,” said department spokeswoman Melaney Arnold. “This has been a very intense flu season and people need to remember to take precautions.”

Those precautions include:

1. Get a flu shot. It’s not too late. While the H3N2 strain has dominated, other strains of flu are increasing across the country and the vaccine can help protect against these as well.
2. Wash your hands. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water and clean surfaces that are frequently touched.
3. Stay home if you are sick – from school, work, or anywhere.
4. Cover your cough and sneeze – and then wash your hands.

University of Chicago pediatric infectious disease Doctor Daniel Johnson says some of this year’s vaccine is not as effective as previous years, but you need to get a vaccine. It could save your life.

“The immunization may not necessarily keep you from getting the flu, but it definitely keeps you from dying from the flu,” he said.

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