Hartford, CT - The state Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) announced today the death of a child earlier this week from influenza. This is the first pediatric death involving a Connecticut child during this flu season.
“Our hearts go out to the family of this child. For confidentiality reasons, I can’t provide you with any additional details about this child’s illness”, said Commissioner Pino. “I can, however, emphasize the importance of vaccinating children against influenza. In Connecticut, there have been reported 12 flu-associated pediatric deaths from the 2005-06 flu season through the 2017-18 season. Only two of these cases (17%) had evidence of current flu vaccination”.
Influenza associated deaths of individuals 18 years of age or younger have been reportable in Connecticut since January 2005. Children younger than 5 years of age –especially those younger than 2 years old or those with long-term medical conditions – are at risk of serious flu-related complications, including pneumonia, or worsening of long-term medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and diseases of the heart and nervous system. Rarely, flu complications can lead to death.
It is especially important that all children be vaccinated for influenza, starting at 6 months of age, since even apparently healthy children can become very ill and die from the flu. Approximately 80% of children who die from influenza nationally and in Connecticut were not vaccinated for flu. Vaccination is particularly important for young children and those with long-term health conditions.
Getting your annual flu shot is also essential for people who are in contact with young or high risk children. Infants younger than six months of age are too young to be vaccinated themselves and are high risk for becoming infected from unvaccinated people.
Commissioner Pino continues to “urge residents to get a flu shot to ensure protection through the remainder of the season. It is not too late to protect your health.” Also adding, “Everyone can help prevent the spread of flu by doing simple preventative practices such a covering your cough and sneeze and washing hands frequently. Teaching and reminding children of this important health practice is also very important”.
Parents are encouraged to call their health care professional if their child develops flu symptoms, such as sudden fever, aching muscles, sore throat, coughing, and headache. They might prescribe antiviral medications which can lessen the duration and severity of the illness. Antiviral medications are most effective when they are started as soon as possible after the illness starts.
Serious flu-related illness can develop very quickly in children so parents and child-care providers should closely monitor children for signs of severe illness.
Commissioner Pino emphasized “Let’s all do our part to protect the children of Connecticut from influenza.”
Yesterday, the Department released the weekly 2018-2019 Influenza Season Update for the week ending February 16. The death that DPH is reporting today is in addition to deaths reported in the flu update.