FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — August 3, 2022
Media Contact: Brookie Crawford, firstname.lastname@example.org
Health Officials Report Virginia’s First Pediatric Flu Death of the 2021–22 Season
RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reports the state’s first influenza-associated pediatric death for the 2021-22 flu season. A child (under 5 years old) in Virginia’s Central region has died from complications associated with influenza. To protect the family’s privacy, VDH will not provide any further information regarding this death.
“This tragic death reminds us that flu can be a very serious disease, especially in the very young, the elderly, and those with chronic medical problems,” said State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH. “While we can never stop all cases of flu, the best way to reduce your risk, for people over 6 months of age, is to receive the flu vaccine, an updated version of which should come available in the next 60 days.”
Virginia observed low to moderate flu activity during the 2021-22 flu season compared to any previous normal flu season. VDH has investigated a total of 23 flu outbreaks during the 2021-22 flu season through July 2022, and received reports of 6,321 pneumonia, influenza and/or COVID-19 associated deaths.
On average, three flu-related pediatric deaths are reported each year in Virginia.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that influenza has resulted in 8-13 million illnesses, 82,000-170,000 hospitalizations and 5,000-14,000 deaths in the U.S. so far this flu season. Certain groups are at higher risk for serious illness from flu, including children younger than 5, pregnant women, people aged 65 and older, and those with suppressed immune systems or certain chronic medical conditions, such as heart or lung disease.
Flu activity in Virginia typically peaks between December and February, but can remain elevated into the spring. However, this flu season VDH observed widespread flu activity even in June.
To locate a seasonal flu vaccine near you, you can visit www.vdh.virginia.gov or contact your local health department.
VDH recommends taking three actions to prevent the flu.
- Get vaccinated every year;
- Practice good public health with hand hygiene (washing your hands regularly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer), respiratory etiquette (coughing and sneezing into a tissue or the inside of your elbow rather than your open hand), and staying home when you feel sick; and
- Take antivirals as prescribed by your physician if you do become sick with the flu.
For more information on flu in Virginia, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/influenza-flu-in-virginia/.
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