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2 Michigan kids die from the flu, health officials say

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

DETROIT – Two Michigan children have died from the flu so far during the 2016-17 season, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced Friday. 

One child is from northern Michigan and the other is from western Michigan. Health officials said these are the first two influenza-associated pediatric deaths of the season. 

There was just one influenza-associated pediatric death reported to the MDHHS during the 2015-16 season. 

From the MDHHS:

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recently confirmed the first two influenza-associated pediatric deaths of the 2016-2017 flu season. Influenza claims the lives of children every year across the United States, which is why MDHHS is reminding residents that it’s not too late to get vaccinated for protection this season.

The reported deaths involve one child from northern Michigan and one child from western Michigan. Although this flu season has been moderate in Michigan so far, flu viruses are circulating in the community and can cause serious illness, hospitalization, and death. MDHHS strongly recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a seasonal flu vaccine.

"The flu vaccine this year is a good match to those viruses circulating in our communities, meaning it offers more protection than it may have in recent years,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive for MDHHS. “It is not too late to get vaccinated. And remember, if you or your child is sick, stay home to help protect others."

More than three quarters of the positive influenza specimens confirmed by MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories this flu season have been an H3N2 virus. This virus can cause severe flu infections in children, as well as in young- and middle-aged adults. Flu vaccine is the best way to prevent getting the flu and can also reduce the severity of flu illness.

Vaccine is especially important for persons at increased risk for complications from flu, including children, adults aged 65 years and older, persons of any age with underlying medical conditions, and pregnant women. Children less than 6 months of age are too young to be vaccinated and need to be protected by vaccination of their close contacts, including parents, siblings, grandparents, child care workers, and healthcare personnel.

In the 2015-2016 flu season, only 42.2 percent of Michigan residents were vaccinated against flu, putting Michigan in 42nd place in the country. MDHHS urges residents to make sure they protect themselves and their families against getting flu this season.

There is still plenty of flu vaccine available. To find flu vaccine near you, call your healthcare provider, local health department, or check the Health Map Vaccine Finder at http://flushot.healthmap.org. For more information about the flu, visit www.michigan.gov/flu.

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