LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has confirmed the state's first influenza-associated pediatric death of the 2018-2019 flu season.
The reported death involves a child from Osceola County who was infected with influenza A/H1N1. Nationally, there have been six influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported during the 2018-2019 flu season, according to the health department.
Flu is a contagious respiratory disease caused by different strains of the influenza virus and can result in mild to severe illness. Although Michigan has only experienced localized flu activity over the past few weeks, MDHHS strongly recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a seasonal flu vaccine. Flu vaccine is the best way to prevent against getting the flu and can also reduce the severity of flu illness.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), last year’s flu season was estimated to be the deadliest since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. More than 79,000 deaths were attributed to the flu, 185 of which were children. In Michigan, two children died last year due to flu-related complications.
A majority of the positive influenza specimens confirmed by MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories this flu season have been an H1N1 virus.
During the 2017-2018 flu season, only 39.5 percent of Michigan residents were vaccinated against flu, below the national rate of 41.7 percent.
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.
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 Flushot.healthmap.org. For more information about the flu, visit Michigan.gov/flu.