• FLU DEATHS: Congress grills health leaders as flu deaths rise

    By: Ken Lemon

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, NC - Health officials in North Carolina say there have been 12 new flu deaths in the state.

    [FLU RESOURCE GUIDE: What you need to know]

    So far this season, 276 people have died in the state.

    The N.C. Division of Health and Human Services reports there was one pediatric death among those reported in the week ending March 3. More than 200 of the deaths reported in the state involved people age 65 and older.

    On Wednesday, South Carolina released the latest numbers for flu deaths in the state.

    In the past week, 34 more people died from the flu, bringing the total number in South Carolina this season to 201.

    Congress grills health agencies on flu season

    Some of the nation's top health officials told Congress that drug companies could do a better job in helping create a more effective flu vaccine.

    The heads of the Centers for Disease and Control, Food and Drug Administration, and National Institutes of Health were on Capitol Hill Thursday answering questions about why this year's flu season has been so bad.

    They all said the current, yearly flu vaccine is based on outdated technology. But they still urged people to get the vaccine.

    Health leaders said drug companies are slow to change because it's expensive to develop new vaccines.

    "We've got to go there. We can't stay stuck in the old technologies," said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 

    The group also said Congress should consider providing more funding for a universal flu vaccine. A universal flu vaccine could help during bad flu seasons like the current one when the vaccine is a poor match. The vaccine would be given once or twice over a lifetime, not every year.  

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