01/17/2014 12:06 EST | Updated 03/19/2014 05:59 EDT

Number of flu-related deaths in Saskatchewan rises to 12 from seven

REGINA - A Saskatchewan health official says the number of flu-related deaths in the province has risen to 12 from seven.

Dr. Denise Werker, deputy chief medical health officer, also says 49 people have been admitted to intensive care because of influenza and some of them are seriously ill.

Werker says more deaths can be anticipated in the coming weeks.

She says the flu situation in Saskatchewan is similar to the one in 2009, when 15 people died in an H1N1 pandemic, although this outbreak hasn't been classified as a pandemic.

The doctor says she is a bit surprised to see the numbers in Saskatchewan get that high because other provinces don't seem to be having the same experience.

Werker says the good news is that the number of flu cases isn't rising as fast as it was, so the illness may have peaked.

A vaccine shortage last week forced Saskatchewan to limit immunizations to children under five, pregnant women and women who have given birth in the last four weeks.

More doses arrived early this week, so health officials were able to expand the program to people who are severely immune compromised. That includes people who have received transplants, people who are on dialysis and people who are on cancer treatment.