Five new flu deaths reported in North Carolina

A major retailer is doing its part to help reduce the spread of the deadly illness
January 9, 2014 10:18:18 AM PST
Flu deaths are on the rise in North Carolina. State health officials released new numbers Thursday bringing the total for this flu season to 21 - five more than last week.

Health officials are urging the public to get their flu shots if they haven't already.

One major retailer is doing its part to help people fight the illness. Target stores across the country have dropped their flu shot price to less than $24. The number of people taking them up on the offer has increased significantly.

"We had a lot of prescriptions for Tamiflu, and a lot of family members giving it to each other. That's when it really starts to set in that this really is real," pharmacist Stephanie Zboyovski said.

The Target clinic in Cary is staying busy lately as the virus hits a younger group of the population especially hard.

"What is notable this year is that we are seeing a lot of those deaths in younger adults. Normally most of our flu associated deaths are people over 65," said Dr. Zack Moore with the N.C. DHHS.

Moore said the group impacted most is people between 25-49. Five deaths have been reported among people between ages 50 and 64. There is just one confirmed death of someone over age 65. Of the 13 deaths, eight were not vaccinated.

"That's probably because of the particular flu strain that's going around, which is the H1N1 flu virus. That tends to hit young people especially hard," Moore said.

As the peak of flu season nears, health officials say there is still time to get vaccinated.

"People still do die from the flu every day, even normal, healthy people. So it is important to get your vaccination," Zboyovski said.

Officials advise anyone who gets the flu to head to a doctor's office. If caught within 48 hours, an anti-viral could help reduce symptoms significantly.

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