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First pediatric flu death reported in Virginia for current flu season

Richmond-Petersburg WWBT 11/30/2022 Pat Thomas
WWBT © Provided by Richmond-Petersburg WWBT WWBT

RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ/VDH Release) - The Virginia Department of Health has announced the state’s first reported influenza-associated pediatric death for the 2022-23 flu season. The child, identified only as 5-12 years old in Virginia’s Southwest region, died from complications associated with influenza, according to VDH. The specific health district in which the child was diagnosed has not been revealed.

“We offer our deepest condolences to the family of this child,” said State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH. “Flu can be a very dangerous illness. With Virginia and many other states experiencing high or very high levels of flu activity, I urge everyone who is eligible to receive the flu vaccine to do so as soon as possible, consulting your physician as needed. While we can never stop all cases of flu, the best way to reduce your risk is to get the vaccine, which is available to anyone over 6 months of age.”

VDH recommends taking three actions to prevent the flu:

  • Everyone 6 months & older should receive a yearly flu vaccine;
  • Practice good preventive health with hand hygiene (washing your hands regularly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer), respiratory etiquette (coughing and sneezing into a tissue or the inside of your elbow rather than your open hand), and staying home when you feel sick; and
  • Take antivirals as prescribed by your physician if you do become sick with the flu.

VDH reports Virginia is experiencing “early and very high flu activity during the current 2022-23 flu season compared to previous flu seasons.” Emergency department and urgent care center visits for influenza-like illness are also very high (8% of total ED & UCC visits) for this time of the season compared to the same time during the previous 12 seasons, according to VDH, except for 2009-10. Virginia reported one influenza-associated death among children during the 2021-2022 flu season.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates influenza has resulted in 6.2 to 14 million illnesses, 53,000 to 110,000 hospitalizations and 2,900 to 8,400 deaths in the U.S. so far this flu season, from October 1 – November 19, 2022. Certain groups are at higher risk for serious illness from flu, including children younger than 5, pregnant women, people age 65 and older, and those with suppressed immune systems or certain chronic medical conditions, such as heart or lung disease.

The flu shot is available in Virginia at many locations, according to VDH, including pharmacies and health departments. To learn more and to get help finding vaccines, contact the Call Center at 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1). Assistance is available in English, Spanish, and more than 100 other languages. Visit vaccines.gov to find a vaccine near you.

Learn more about influenza in Virginia by visiting the VDH Influenza page and the Influenza Dashboard.

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