Three more people have died of H1N1 in B.C. — all in the Fraser Valley region — bringing the total number of confirmed flu-related deaths to 15.

Severe cases of the illness have also spiked, something health-care workers were bracing for, said provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall.

“As we have been expecting, we have seen a jump in cases, in severe cases, and unfortunately some deaths,” said Kendall.

Of the 361 severe cases reported across the province since the spring, 162 were identified in the past week.

“Of those new cases, 12 were admitted to intensive care, ” Kendall said.

One of the biggest issues continues to be availability of the vaccine, which last week kept thousands of Canadians in long queues, and many were turned away because clinics had run out of doses.

In B.C. this week, 200 H1N1 vaccination clinics have opened, and are administering the drug to the most high-risk people, including young children, pregnant women, people with underlying health issues and aboriginals.

“What we don’t know is how many people have influenza today in British Columbia,” Kendall said.

“It’s obviously 10 or a hundred times the number of people who have been tested for the disease.”

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