North Carolina reported the state’s first two flu-related deaths of the season Thursday, saying two older adults died from the viral infection in October.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said the deaths occurred in the Piedmont region, which includes the Triangle, and in the eastern part of the state. DHHS said the affected people were 65 or older but the agency does not disclose the age, gender, hometown or other particulars of flu deaths to protect patient privacy.
Wake County and Durham County health officials said Thursday the Piedmont region death did not occur in their counties. In the last flu season, Wake reported 22 flu-related deaths.
The flu season began Oct. 1 and runs through May. People must vulnerable to flu complications are aged up to 5, and 65 and older, as well as pregnant women. Flu complications can include pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections, as well exacerbations of asthma and congestive heart disease.
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In the last flu season, North Carolina reported 219 deaths, most of them among people 65 and older. In the 2015-16 flu season, the state reported 59 flu-related deaths, most affecting people age 50 through 64.
State and local health officials recommend flu shots, most commonly available from private employers, doctors, pharmacies, health care centers and local health departments.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urge flu vaccinations for everyone 6 months and older with rare exceptions. The group recommends injections over nasal sprays, which the CDC has not recommended for the past two years because of lower effectiveness.