RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced the first two reported flu-related deaths of the 2023-24 flu season.
The state reported two adults in the western part of the state died due to complications of influenza during the third and fourth weeks of October.
One of those people had tested positive for both influenza and COVID-19. Their identities were not released but state data shows one person was between the ages of 25 and 49, while the second person was 65 or older.
“We know both flu and COVID-19 can lead to severe complications and even death in some cases,” said State Epidemiologist Zack Moore, M.D., MPH. “As flu season ramps up and COVID-19 is still circulating, it is very important for people to get their annual vaccines, practice good hand hygiene and stay home when sick.”
Influenza, COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus are currently circulating and are expected to increase over the coming months.
State data shows reports of flu-like symptoms are slowly increasing across the state. It also shows 18% of flu tests are coming back positive.
In the last week, there were 21 hospitalizations for influenza. About 7 percent of emergency room visits had symptoms of a respiratory virus.
The state is urging the public to get their flu shot. NCDHHS said vaccinations are the best way to prevent serious illness, hospitalization, and death from these infections.
Vaccinations are especially important for those at higher risk of severe viral respiratory disease, including people 65 years and older, children younger than 5, pregnant women, those with a weakened immune system, and those with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all people aged 6 months and older receive a fall COVID-19 vaccine and seasonal flu vaccine. RSV vaccinations are also available to protect older adults and for pregnant women during weeks 32 through 36 of pregnancy to protect infants. Parents should talk with their health care provider about other options to protect infants from severe RSV disease.