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Idaho State News

Influenza contributes to Washington County child’s death 

Greg Stahl, Public Information Officer | Idaho Department of Health & Welfare

A Washington County child is Idaho’s first influenza-related death among Idahoans younger than 18 years of age for the 2022-2023 season. The pediatric death was announced by the Department of Health and Welfare today ahead of updates to data on the public-facing dashboard.

“This is a tragic reminder that although deaths among children are unusual, flu can be very serious, and not just for those 65 years and older,” said Idaho Influenza Surveillance Coordinator Dr. Leslie Tengelsen. “Influenza activity is currently very high in Idaho. While in some parts of the country the flu season appears to be on the decline, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the flu season often has a second wave, so it is difficult to know how long this season will continue.”

Idaho has an average of 45 influenza-related deaths reported each year during the last five seasons, with most reports among people over 65 years of age. The last influenza-related death for a child was reported during the 2019-2020 season.

“It is not too late to get the flu vaccine,” Tengelsen said. “To reduce serious respiratory illness get your annual influenza vaccine and stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines.”

Everyone over 6 months of age should get an annual influenza vaccine and be up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations. Getting the influenza vaccine every year is especially important for people at higher risk for serious flu-related complications, including people with chronic health conditions, pregnant women, young children, and anyone 65 years of age or older. Healthy people should be vaccinated to protect vulnerable people, such as the elderly and those who live in long-term care facilities where they could be exposed to influenza by family and friends.

Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to determine which vaccines are best for you and your family.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills, or fatigue. Although most people who get the flu recover after a few days, some people can have serious complications, including secondary bacterial respiratory infections, and even die.

In addition to getting vaccinated against flu and COVID-19, Idahoans can take other actions to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:

  • Wear a mask and physically distance yourself whenever you are in public.
  • Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth until you have washed your hands.
  • Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids, eat nutritious foods, and take part in physical activity to stay healthy.
  • Avoid people who appear sick.
  • Stay home from work or school when sick.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
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