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NC: Nine out of 10 flu deaths reported in young and middle-aged adults

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Ninety percent of the 21 influenza fatalities reported in North Carolina has been in young and middle-aged adults, while only two flu deaths were reported in persons over 65, according to a N.C. Department of Health and Human Services news release Jan. 9.

This comes after health officials announced the 21st fatality to flu this 2013-2014 season.

Health department officials say most of the victims had some kind of underlying medical condition.

This has prompted health authorities to encourage the public to get the flu vaccine.

"More than 50 percent of North Carolina's total population has some form of chronic disease," said State Health Director Dr. Robin Gary Cummings. "Conditions like asthma, congestive heart failure and diabetes can increase the risk for complications from flu. It's not too late to get vaccinated and it is the safest and most effective action you can take to protect yourself and your family."

Either the trivalent or the quadrivalent influenza vaccine protects against the H1N1 strain, which the CDC says is the predominant strain circulating this year.

LISTEN: Flu shots and travel medicine with Passport Health CEO, Duellyn Pandis

North Carolina is one of 35 states that are reporting "widespread" flu activity this season, this is up from just 25 states one week ago.

The CDC says flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe. Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.

Related story: FDA reports shortages of children's Tamiflu

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