The Duval County Health Department has confirmed a pediatric death related to the influenza virus.
This was the first flu-related death in Jacksonville since 2009. Health officials said they confirmed that the child died from the flu, though they could not say when the child died. Officials also cannot release any details about the victim other than the fact that the child had not received a flu vaccine.
Nationally, nine children or teens have died of the flu this season, bringing the total of flu deaths in the United States this year to 29. That's close to the 34 pediatric deaths reported during all of the last flu season, although that one was unusually light. In a typical season, about 100 children die of the flu.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, total deaths associated with flu range from a low of 3,000 people, to a high of 49,000 annually over the last 30 years. About 90 percent of flu deaths are in the elderly; the very young and people with other health problems such as diabetes are also at higher risk.
This year's flu season started about a month earlier than normal and the dominant flu strain is one that tends to make people sicker. Vaccinations are recommended for anyone 6 months or older.
There's still plenty of vaccine -- an update shows that 145 million doses have been produced, twice the supply that was available only several years ago, officials said.
To avoid the flu, the department urges two prevention methods: getting a flu vaccination and being alert to spreading germs.
- The DCHD offers the following tips:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue away after use and wash your hands. If a tissue is not available, cover your mouth and nose with your sleeve, not your hand.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
Each year’s flu vaccine contains the three strains of influenza most likely to be circulating that year. That’s why it’s so important to get a flu shot every fall. Last year’s shot might not cover the same strains infecting us this year.
The DCHD encourages the following groups to receive a flu vaccine because they are either at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing complications:
- Pregnant women
- Children younger than five, but especially children younger than two years old
- People 50 years of age and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions including diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, asthma, kidney disease, liver disease, neurologic disorder, blood disorder or a weakened immune system
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu including healthcare workers, household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu and household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age* (who are too young to be vaccinated)
Flu vaccinations are available at the DCHD by walk-in and appointment. For additional information or to schedule an appointment, please call the DCHD’s Immunization Center Office, at 904-253-1420.