By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

The Michigan state health officials have confirmed the first influenza-associated pediatric deaths of the 2019-2020 flu season in Michigan.

H1N1 influenza virus particles/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

The reported deaths involve children from Shiawassee and Wayne counties who were infected with Influenza B. Nationally, there have been 32 influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported during the 2019-2020 flu season.

“These tragic deaths are a reminder of how serious influenza can be,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health for MDHHS. “I urge all Michiganders ages 6 months and older to get their flu shots if they have not already done so this season. It is not too late.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during last year’s flu season there were an estimated 34,200 deaths from influenza. In Michigan, four children died last year due to flu-related complications, while nationally there were 136 flu-related deaths among children.

Influenza activity remains elevated and widespread in the US

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services strongly recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a seasonal flu vaccine. Flu vaccine is the best way to prevent against getting the flu and can also reduce the severity of flu illness. During the 2018-2019 flu season, only 46.1 percent of Michigan residents were vaccinated against flu, below the national rate of 49.2 percent.

Vaccines are especially important for people at increased risk for complications from flu, including children, adults aged 65 years and older, persons of any age with underlying medical conditions and pregnant women. Children less than 6 months of age are too young to be vaccinated and need to be protected by vaccination of their close contacts, including parents, siblings, grandparents, childcare workers and healthcare personnel.