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5 people in NC have died from flu so far this season

The flu-related death count for the 2017-18 season in North Carolina was five as of Wednesday. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

The flu-related death count for the 2017-18 season in North Carolina was five as of Wednesday.

The number of flu-related deaths could grow as January approaches with the peak of the season.

Australia had a bad flu season with a strain called H3N2, which caused an increase of hospitalizations and deaths.

As the flu season in the Southern Hemisphere came a close, some studies state the flu vaccine was about 10 percent effective against H3N2.

Philip Price, a family nurse practitioner at Sisters Mercy Urgent Care in Asheville, encouraged people to get the flu vaccine despite some reports regarding the effectiveness of the vaccine in Australia.

"It's too early to tell how that will be here. But, using last year's data, which they think will be pretty similar to this year, it will have similar effectiveness rates as last year, which was around 40 percent," Price said.

Dr. Jennifer Mullendore, medical director at Buncombe County Health and Human Services, said a lot could happen as the virus travels.

"You know, make some changes, some genetic changes along the way," Mullendore said.

The number of flu-related deaths in North Carolina, five, was still relatively close to the number about the same time in 2016, two.

Mullendore said, as of Wednesday, there was not an outbreak of flu in North Carolina, but that could change at any time.

"I would say it's not bad, yet. I would say this is the time for people to get their flu vaccine, if they haven't done it, yet," Mullendore said.

In the 2016-17 flu season, there were 219 deaths in North Carolina. Most of those were people 65 and older.

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