The Hawai’i Department of Health announces the first pediatric flu death of the season
Posted on February 10, 2023 at Editorial
HONOLULU, HI – A state resident under the age of 18 has died of the flu, the Department of Health (DOH) announced today. This death serves as a sobering reminder that the flu is circulating widely in Hawai’i. Anyone six months of age and older can be protected from the flu by getting the flu shot.
This is the first flu-related death of a child in Hawaii this flu season. The child was hospitalized at the time of death. Out of respect for the family’s privacy and in accordance with medical privacy laws, no further information about the child is being released.
“We are particularly saddened to announce the death of a child in our community. Our thoughts and condolences are with the family at this difficult time,” said State Health Director Dr. Kenneth Fink, “If you or your loved ones haven’t gotten the flu shot this season, I hope you’ll consider it.”
Vaccines provide protection against the effects of several infectious diseases, including influenza and COVID-19. Keeping up to date on all recommended vaccinations and boosters provides strong protection against serious illness, hospitalization, and death. Vaccines are widely available nationwide at pharmacies, clinics and health care facilities. A list of vaccination sites against COVID 19 and influenza can be found at https://www.vaccines.gov/. DOH encourages anyone who is not up to date or is unsure if they are up to date to consult a pharmacist or healthcare provider about vaccination.
The last pediatric death in Hawai’i from influenza occurred in January 2020. In the previous 10 years, Hawai’i has recorded 6 pediatric deaths due to influenza. During the height of the pandemic, Hawai’i experienced very low rates of influenza among residents of all ages. “The restrictions we put in place for COVID-19 also protected us from other respiratory viruses,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble, “This is probably the reason there have been no pediatric flu deaths in the past three years.”
Many respiratory viruses are circulating in Hawai’i this winter, including influenza, COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection. The symptoms are similar and it is usually not possible to tell one from the other without a test. Those at highest risk, including those with underlying health conditions — the elderly, infants and anyone experiencing severe symptoms — should seek health care immediately, for testing and treatment as needed.
More information about flu and other respiratory diseases can be found at https://health.hawaii.gov/docd/disease-types/respiratory-viruses/.
# # #
Leave a Reply