The Grapevine

Flu Outbreak 2020 Update: New Pediatric Flu Deaths Reported

Public health officials from different states across the U.S. have reported new cases of children dying amid the flu season. There are thousands of hospitalized patients and the number is expected to increase in the coming weeks. 

The local health department in Erie County, New York, reported one pediatric death linked to flu. The unnamed child was one of the nearly 2,000 people who were hospitalized because of the virus in the past week across the state, WGRZ reported

"We have not reached our peak yet," Erie County Health Commissioner Gale Burstein said during the 2 On Your Side show. "We're seeing very high numbers right now of influenza, and we anticipate seeing even higher numbers."

Two children also died from complications because of the flu in the city of Omaha in Nebraska, according to The Associated Press. Both patients came from Douglas County, where two adults were also dead due to similar illness.  

In late 2019, the flu season also significantly hit North Carolina. The virus left one child dead in the western part of the state in December, which officials marked as the first flu-related pediatric death of the 2019-2020 season, WTVD reported

Officials at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said parents should consider getting vaccinated with their kids to prevent the virus from spreading. Flu vaccines have been proven safe and effective by the federal government. 

"We extend our deepest sympathies to this child's family," State Epidemiologist Zack Moore said. "These personal losses are also a reminder for all of us that flu can be a serious illness. We want to encourage people to protect themselves and others by getting their annual flu shot."

On Jan. 4, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded 27 pediatric deaths due to flu in the U.S. The agency estimates that the virus kills between 12,000 and 79,000 people each year across the country. 

The people who are at high risk of complications and should get flu shots are those who are younger than five years old, over 65 years old, pregnant and those with chronic conditions, such as heart or lung disease.

flu vaccine In 2018, flu sent more than 500,000 people to hospitals and caused 50,000 deaths across the U.S, but during a later stage in the season. Pixabay