NORTHCAROLINA -- On Thursday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced the first flu-related deaths of 2012-13 season.
This marks the third death this season in the Carolinas. On Wednesday, South Carolina state health officials announced the first fatality credited it to the influenza virus.
According to the State Health Director, Laura Gerald, two have died so far. Gerald says both victims were from the Triad region, and neither had received a flu shot.
One of the victims was at a higher risk of infection, officials say, because of older age and pre-existing medical conditions.
Statewide flu activity is increasing in North Carolina, authorities say; the number of positive flu tests recorded by the NC DHHS has quadrupled since early November.
North Carolina Public Health officials encourage anyone over the age of 6-months to be vaccinated, particularly pregnant women, people with chronic diseases, young children and the elderly.
Last year, just over 46 percent of North Carolinans were immunized against the flu.
Nationwide, 25,000 people are hospitalized with the virus.
For more information about flu and to find a flu vaccine clinic near you, visit flu.nc.gov.