DHHR confirms pediatric flu death

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - A child has died from an influenza-associated illness.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), Bureau for Public Health confirmed the pediatric death for the 2019-20 flu season.

The last influenza-associated pediatric death was reported during the 2017-18 flu season.

No details regarding the child's death will be released including the child's name, hometown, age or gender.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the child’s family and friends,” said Dr. Cathy Slemp, State Health Officer and Commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health. “Such a loss is always tragic. While most people recover from the flu in a few days, it clearly is and can be a serious and life-threatening illness in both children and adults.”

Flu vaccination is the most effective protection against the flu. The Bureau for Public Health urges all West Virginians 6 months of age and older to get vaccinated.

“It’s not too late to get your flu shot, as influenza activity in West Virginia remains widespread. The flu vaccine is the first line of defense to protect yourself, and people around you who are vulnerable to the serious effects of the flu,” added Dr. Slemp.

Those who are very susceptible to flu and its complications include children under the age of five years old, the elderly, and people with underlying health conditions.

Infants under 6 months of age cannot receive the influenza vaccine.

The best way to protect them is to have everyone who will have contact with the infant receive a flu vaccine and to limit an infant’s exposure to large groups of individuals.