A child died from influenza this week, becoming the first pediatric flu death in Connecticut this season.
Officials from the state Department of Public Health announced the child’s death in a statement Friday while stressing the importance of vaccinating children against influenza.
“Our hearts go out to the family of this child,” Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino said. “For confidentiality reasons, I can’t provide you with any additional details about this child’s illness.”
The majority of the country is now experiencing widespread activity of the virus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Flu season can last from October through May.
Illness poses a higher risk to vulnerable populations like seniors, pregnant women, people with existing health complications and children.
In Connecticut, there have been 12 flu-associated deaths among children between 2005 and 2018, according to the state Public Health department. Two of the cases had evidence of flu vaccination.
The flu has already claimed the lives of 41 children nationwide as of Feb. 14, according to the CDC.
Adults have also died from the flu, including 29 people in Connecticut so far this season, state reports show.
Pino said in a statement that getting a flu shot can help people avoid or lessen the severity of illness, as well as limit the spread of the virus to young or high risk children. He recommended other prevention methods like covering coughs and sneezes, and washing hands frequently.
“Teaching and reminding children of this important health practice is also very important,” he said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children six months and older should get a flu shot. Parents can also consult their health care providers if their children start experiencing flu symptoms.