New York Health officials confirmed Thursday the first pediatric death in the city caused by the influenza virus this season. Although they did not give details about the child’s identity, age, or ethnicity, citing reasons for patient confidentiality, the New York City Health Department confirmed that the child is under the age of 18 and that the death occurred in the last two weeks after contracting the flu.
Influenza made its first victim in New York, and health officials recommend vaccinations
“All New Yorkers 6 years of age and older should get a flu shot every year, especially children, pregnant women and the elderly,” stated Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “Flu shots are available throughout the city and are easy to find at local pharmacies. If you need help finding a location, I invite you to use the NYC Health Map from the Department of Health. By getting your flu shot, you and your community stay healthy,” he added.
Health officials recalled that everyone in New York should get a flu vaccine each season, mainly referring to older adults, pregnant women, and children between 6 months and five years of age.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during the last year’s flu season, there were approximately 80,000 deaths and 900,000 hospitalizations caused by influenza across the United States. Additionally, in 2017, 183 children died of influenza-related illnesses, and five of those children lived in New York City.
New Yorkers still not interested in getting vaccinated
Although influenza activity is just at its beginning this year, the CDC has already reported several flu-related pediatric deaths, including the one reported Thursday in New York City.
Despite the risk of serious illness, there are still not enough New Yorkers who are being vaccinated. Data show that only 44 percent of people over the age of 18 were vaccinated against the flu in 2017, and, more worryingly, one-third of children under the age of 5 were not immunized during the 2017-2018 period.
The New York health officials also indicated that disparities in flu vaccination persist for this flu season. For example, 38% of African Americans over the age of 18 were vaccinated, compared to 45% of whites, 46% of Latinos, and 47% of Asians.