The very sad news has been reported this week, that the barely-beginning flu season has claimed the life of a child, the first pediatric death in the nation so far.
Few details about the child have been reported by health authorities in Florida, where the death occurred, according to the New York Times. But the very little that is known gives parents and the public important messages about the flu.
-- The child had otherwise been healthy. Many people mistakenly think that the only people who die from the flu are the very elderly or those with serious health problems. In fact, the flu is a potentially serious disease that causes hundreds of thousands of hospitalizatons each year. More than 80,000 Americans died during the 2017-18 flu season.
-- The child had not been vaccinated against the flu. There were more than 180 pediatric deaths from flu during the 2017-18 season, more than in aany non-pandemic year, and 80 percent of those deaths were among unvaccinated children.
-- Though it is true that the height of the flu season usually occurs in mid-winter, that doesn't mean the flu isn't a threat early on. Delaying vaccination means taking a serious health risk.
Among the children who died last year was 4-year-old Leon Robert Sidari of Bexar County, the son of two Air Force physicians. Leon died on Christmas in San Antonio, very shortly before he was scheduled to get his flu shot. His parents created a fund to promote flu vaccinations. Heather Holland, a 38-year-old teacher and mother from North Texas, died of the flu in February. Her husband could not remember whether or not she had been vaccinated.
Aside from sending parents our condolences, the best way people can honor these two children and the many others who have died from the flu is by getting both themselves and their children vaccinated, without delay. The vaccine is recommended for almost everyone ages 6 months and older.
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