Health officials report first flu-associated death of the 2019-1920 season in Riverside County

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PERRIS – A 4-year-old child from Perris who recently died tested positive for influenza, health officials said recently. The child had underlying health issues and died at a medical facility outside of the county.

It is considered the first pediatric flu-associated death of the 2019-2020 flu season in Riverside County. There were nine flu-associated deaths in 2018-2019 and 23 deaths during 2017-2018.

According to Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County public health officer, the child’s death is a tragic reminder of how deadly influenza can be.

“We should never forget that the flu still kills,” Kaiser said. “I always recommend people get their flu shots every year, but a death so early in the flu season suggests this year may be worse than usual. Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones who are grieving.”

It is not too early to get a flu shot, Kaiser said, adding that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend all persons six months of age and older receive a flu vaccination each year, and many providers have this year’s shot already in stock. Children who are 8 years old and under who haven’t received at least two flu shots in prior seasons may need two shots to be fully protected; consult a primary care provider.

Kaiser also recommended frequent hand-washing and avoiding getting close to people who are sick as ways to avoid the flu. If a person or their child is sick, they should stay home from work and school.

For more information on where flu shots are being offered throughout Riverside County, www.rivcoimm.org.

Submitted by Riverside University Health System.