ECU health expert gives tips on how to stay safe after flu deaths pass last years total

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – This year’s flu season has caught the attention of doctors here in the East, with the number of flu deaths, 206, already surpassing last year’s total of 196 in the state.

“We obviously don’t like to see anyone get sick from these diseases,” said Jacob Pierce, an ECU Health Infectious Disease Expert

Pierce says there are a few reasons this year’s numbers are higher- including fewer people getting vaccinated and those who do get the flu getting it more seriously. “We haven’t really been exposed to it for a number of years during COVID.”

Pierce says he recommends that everyone get the flu vaccine, which can completely protect you or at least lower the severity of your case.

Mary Fedash says she decided to get the shot this year for the first time, and although she still got sick, she thinks it made her case milder.

“I didn’t leave my house for 12 days; I just didn’t want to be around people,” said Fedash.

She has a message for those concerned about the higher number of flu deaths. “Go get your shots; it does help.”

Even though flu season is generally from October to May, Pierce says cases may have started trending up earlier than October this season, which could also mean an earlier end to the season.

Pre-pandemic flu deaths are similar to post-pandemic numbers, with 186 flu deaths in the 2019-2020 flu season. But we’re still higher than that, with 206 this season so far.