OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma State Department of Health releases new information Thursday, showing eight people have died from the flu in the state since the flu season began on September 30, 2012.

The flu has hit eastern Oklahoma particularly hard. Three of those deaths occurred in Tulsa County, and one each in Creek, Mayes, Muskogee, Pittsburg and Rogers counties. Their names and ages have not been released. 

The data does not say if the deaths were male or female but shows 4 were between the ages of 19 to 64 and the rest were 65 or older.

So far this season, 345 people across the state have been hospitalized with the illness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says this flu season is one of the more severe in recent years. There are flu cases in 41 states, and at least 18 children have died from flu-related deaths.

Public health officials are urging those who have not done so to get a flu shot. Tom Skinner with the CDC says certain groups of people – mainly children, the elderly, and people with underlying health conditions – are particularly at risk from the flu. Skinner says the vaccine is well matched to this year's flu strains, although it isn't 100 effective.