CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With flu season kicking into high gear, many hospitals across North Carolina are taking every precaution when it comes to preventing the spread of the highly contagious virus. 

One of those precautions is the restriction of visitors. Medical experts say the ban on visitors is necessary because they can't guarantee everyone who walks through the hospital doors has had a flu shot. And with vulnerable patients inside, it's too risky to let just anyone visit. 

Currently, pregnant women and children under 12 are not allowed to visit, as are people with chronic conditions. 

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There is some good news, though. Compared to this time last year, the number of flu-related deaths in North Carolina is down. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say 10 people have died in North Carolina. Since September, 21 people have died across the Carolinas due to the flu. 

"Younger kids, especially the little ones or high-risk patients who may have other diagnoses, like leukemia, they could get very sick," said one doctor. "They could suffer multiple complications, from what sounds as simple as a high fever to difficulty breathing."

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South Carolina is one of nine states that's experienced a spike in flu activity this year. Health officials said flu cases are up, particularly in York County.