Sixteen more people died from complications of the flu in North Carolina last week, making it the deadliest week this flu season as the prevalence of the viral illness continues to increase.
By the end of last week, 63 people had died of the flu in North Carolina, including four children under 18, according to the latest report from the state Department of Health and Human Services. The majority of those deaths, 38, occurred during the three weeks ending Feb. 25.
Most of the deaths have occurred among people 65 or older, a reflection that the most common strain of the virus this season – Influenza A H3N2 – tends to affect older people more severely. Four were children under 18.
The prevalence of flu has continued to rise in North Carolina since the middle of January, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. A survey of clinics, hospitals and health departments found that more than 7 percent of visits were for patients with flu-like illnesses, up from a little more than 2 percent in mid-January.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in February that the flu vaccine protects about half the people who receive it – better than in some years but not as good as in others. Health officials say it’s still not too late to get vaccinated.
Abbie Bennett: 919-836-5768; @AbbieRBennett