Four more people died from complications of the flu in North Carolina last week, even as other data showed the flu season continuing to wane.
The new deaths bring the seasonal total to 189, the most since the state began tracking flu deaths in 2009, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. That compares to 107 flu deaths last season.
Meanwhile, the portion of people who had flu-like illnesses at clinics and hospitals across the state dropped last week, from more than 3 percent to less than 2 percent. It was the first significant drop in more than a month and is down from more than 8 percent in late December, when state officials think the flu season peaked in North Carolina.
The flu season has been unusually harsh in part because the most prevalent strain of the virus this year, H3N2, evolved, making the vaccine less effective than expected.
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The H3N2 strain is particularly hard on the elderly. Of those who have died this season, 157 were age 65 or older. Only two were children, a vulnerable group in previous flu seasons.