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Michigan reports first flu-related pediatric death of the season

A patient receives a flu vaccine.
A patient receives a flu vaccine.

Michigan’s first influenza-associated pediatric death of the season was announced Thursday. Now, state health officials are urging parents to get their children vaccinated.

The death involves a child from Ingham County who contracted Influenza A/H3. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, most positive influenza specimens confirmed by their labs this flu season have been Influenza A/H3 virus.

Terri Adams is the divisions director for the Division of Immunizations at MDHHS. She said the death is a somber reminder for parents to get their children vaccinated.

“The vaccine is a good match this year, it’s about 40 to 70% effective on an annual basis and it’s better than zero protection if we don’t get our children vaccinated,” she said.

Adams said flu cases in the state have been low but stressed that it’s still important to get the jab.

“If we can keep (children) from getting severe illness or even hospitalizations, that’s our goal with influenza vaccines,” Adams said.

According to MDHHS, only 33% of Michigan residents have been vaccinated against the flu for the 2022-2023 season. Flu coverage among children six months to 17 years in the state is more than 3% lower this season (18.8%) compared to the 2021-2022 season (22.2%).

Adams said the department had a goal of reaching 4 million vaccinations, but has only made it to 3 million. She attributes the decline in vaccination rates to a lower influenza season last year.

“I think people think that influenza doesn’t take its toll on folks, but it is one of the vaccine-preventable diseases that we do see on an annual basis that does take the lives of children in Michigan and nationwide,” she said.

There have been at least 111 flu-related pediatric deaths nationwidereported this season.

Adams said there’s still time to get vaccinated despite being well into the flu season. She adds parents should also ensure their children are up to date on other vaccinations as well.

More information on the flu vaccine can be found at michigan.gov/flu

Melorie Begay is the local producer and host of Morning Edition.
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