COVID-19 has drawn all the headlines this year.
However, a Thursday, Oct. 15 announcement from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is meant to remind people that coronavirus isn’t the only threat out there these days. The department reported that the state has seen its first death of the 2020-2021 flu season, and, of course, many more are expected.
On Thursday, NCDHHS officials announced the first reported flu-related death, which occurred in the first week of October and involved an adult who was over 65 and lived in “the central part of the state.” The department didn’t release many details since state officials were concerned about protecting the deceased’s privacy.
Health officials are using the new death as a reminder to people to get a flu vaccination. With COVID-19 still with us, they want to do everything they can to keep the flu numbers down this year.
During the 2019-20 flu season,186 flu deaths were reported in the state – down from 208 in the 2018-19 flu season. Of those 186 deaths last year, 105 were people 65 and older. Five were under the age of 18.
The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) recommends a flu vaccination every year for everyone who is six months of age or older and the CDC says it’s especially important for everyone with a higher risk of more serious outcomes, such as people over 65 years old, children younger than five, pregnant women and those with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Some of these same groups are also at high risk of complications from COVID-19.
“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 Dr. Zack Moore said of this first flu death. “With flu season starting during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for people to get a flu vaccine this year.”