North Carolina reports first flu-related death of 2020-21 season

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Thursday, October 15, 2020
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is reporting its first flu-related death of the 2020-21 season.

State health officials said an adult over the age of 65 in central North Carolina died from flu-related complications during the first week of October. The details of the victim will not be released to the public.

"This is a sad reminder that flu can be a serious illness and can lead to complications and even death in some cases," State Epidemiologist Zack Moore, M.D., MPH wrote in a statement. "With flu season starting during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for people to get a flu vaccine this year."

RELATED: UNC Health experts warn COVID-19 and influenza could cause 'twindemic'

Last flu season, North Carolina reported 186 flu deaths, down from 208 deaths during the 2018-19 flu season. Of those 186 deaths, 106 cases were over the age of 65 and five under the age of 18.

In North Carolina, flu infections are most common from late fall to early spring, according to the NCDHHS. The virus circulates year-round but typically peaks for the state between January or February.

This year, infectious disease specialists in the state are urging people to get their flu shot as soon as possible to prevent a "twindemic." While the recent flu-related death is only the first of the season, to date, there have been 3,874 COVID-19-related deaths reported in North Carolina--a virus that does not have a vaccine at this time.

However, there is an influenza vaccine available to prevent complications and lower your chance of getting sick with the virus.

WATCH: Why flu shots are more important than ever in 2020

Infectious disease specialists say if you'll just roll up your sleeve and get a flu shot it will go a long way toward battling both influenza and COVID-19.