By comparison, there were 59 flu-related deaths during the 2015-16 season, along with 218 flu-related deaths in 2014-15, with 180 of the victims being 65 and older.
In recent years, between 71 percent and 85 percent of flu-related deaths have occurred among people 65 years of age and older, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
During the 2012-2013 season, people who got a high-dose vaccine were 36 percent less likely to die in the 30 days following hospitalization or an emergency department visit that included a flu diagnosis compared to the standard-dose vaccine, the researchers found. H3N2 influenza viruses, which are usually associated with higher mortality in older adults, were predominant during that season.
So far this flu season, there have been 40 deaths in the state due to the flu, with most of those over 65 years of age. Jackson county has five hospitalizations while Tillman county has only 2.
The prevalence of flu has continued to rise in North Carolina since the middle of January, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The OSDH reports that 1,664 people have been hospitalized during the flu season that began September 1, 2016, 116 of those in the last week.
There've been three outbreaks, including one that caused visitor restrictions to take effect at Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital in Petrolia on Monday, and three flu-related deaths - all elderly patients, she said.
Those showing symptoms of the flu are encouraged by the CDC to stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever disappears without the need for fever-reducing medications to keep it down. Good handwashing practices and respiratory etiquette such as covering your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing can also help prevent the spread of the virus.
OCCHD offers the flu vaccine at the three clinic locations.