A child is Florida’s first flu death of the season — and a disease doctor has a reminder

A child gets a flu shot.
A child gets a flu shot.

The first Florida flu death of the season has been reported.

The Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Epidemiology on Monday announced that the unidentified Florida child tested positive for influenza B and died between Sept. 30 and Oct. 6.

The department’s report did not say where in the state that the death occurred, but did say the unvaccinated child was otherwise healthy before getting sick.

Dr. Richard Webby, a WHO Vaccine Composition Team Member and member of the Infectious Diseases Department at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, says this year’s vaccine is an improvement from last year’s.

During the 2017-18 flu season — the deadliest flu season in four decades — 80,000 Americans died, including 180 children. Eighty percent of the children who died were not vaccinated.

“This year’s flu vaccine has been reformulated and updated based on last year’s historically bad flu season,” Webby said. “Although not perfect, the flu shot is a valuable and life-saving public health tool.”

Indeed, if the vaccine doesn’t prevent you from contracting the flu, it can still protect against the illness’ severity. It can also protect those around you who are vulnerable, such as the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.

“The more people who get the flu shot, the less chance the virus can spread while protecting more people.,” Webby said.

For information on how and where to get the flu shot, click here.

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