Officials say 13 have died in NC so far from flu

by: Mark Becker Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - State officials say 13 people in North Carolina have died from the flu, with five deaths occurring last week.

Figures from the state Department of Health and Human Services show five people died in the week of Dec. 22, 2013, to Dec. 28, 2013.

Of the 13 flu deaths in the state, all but one person was younger than age 65. Seven were between 25 and 49 years old; five were between 50 and 64 years old.

Typically children under 2, pregnant women, and people with asthma, diabetes and heart disease are the most at risk of complications from the flu.

Mecklenburg County's health director says the deaths come as hospitals and clinics have been busy treating more patients with flu-like symptoms.

"We have seen a very steep increase in the amount of influenza like activity," Dr. Stephen Keener said.

Keener says the data on flu cases is taken from statewide samples, but that they probably reflect what is going on in Mecklenburg County as well.

His advice: "If you haven't a shot, go ahead a get one because this is just the beginning of the flu season."

Many people have already gotten the flu shot starting as early as August.

Terrice Bookhart was at the pharmacy looking for help with a cold, but is convinced that the flu shot kept her on her feet.

"I'm sick as a dog right now, I don't know if I would be sicker without the vaccine, but I get it every year," she said.

Eyewitness News checked with several pharmacies and found they all had a supply of flu vaccine on hand, but state officials have reported that some smaller pharmacies may not have them in stock.

Keener said he is confident that even if there is a rush on flu shots that suppliers will be able to meet the demand without a shortage like the one that hit in 2009.

For more information about the flu, click here.

For more information on flu and to find out where you can get a flu vaccination in your community, visit www.flu.nc.gov.

Read more past coverage:

Dec. 31: New strain of norovirus spreading across the Carolinas

Dec.30: Duke restricts visitors as NC flu deaths reach 8

Dec. 23: Shortage reports on Tamiflu in Atlanta, local pharmacies stocked