The Kane County Health Department is starting a campaign to “Spread Fun, Not Flu,” following the news of the first Kane County pediatric death of the flu season.
According to the Centers For Disease Control, seven pediatric deaths have been reported so far this season — including the one in Kane County.
Influenza activity in the United States is increasing, the CDC said. To date, influenza A (H1N1) viruses have predominated nationally; however, over the last three weeks influenza A (H3N2) viruses have been most common in the southeastern United States.
“It’s too soon to make any assessment about this season’s severity,” the CDC says in its most recent report. “However, since this H1N1 virus emerged in 2009, it has been associated with significant illness and severe illness among young children.”
During most seasons, about 80 percent of reported pediatric deaths occur in unvaccinated children, but a 2017 study showed flu vaccination reduced the risk of flu death among healthy children by 65 percent and among children with a high-risk condition by 50 percent.
Last flu season was record-breaking for pediatric deaths, with 185 reported to CDC.
Spread Fun, Not Flu
Severe flu outcomes are a somber reminder of how serious flu can be, even for otherwise healthy people. Flu vaccination protects against flu illness and reduces the risk of flu complications, including flu-associated hospitalization, admissions to the intensive care unit, and even death in children.
“Even healthy kids of any age can get seriously sick from the flu,” Kane County Health Department Executive Director Barb Jeffers said. “Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every year.”
Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza, Jeffers said.
The Health Department is emphasizing that flu vaccination has important benefits. It can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. Flu vaccine also has been shown to be life-saving in children. In fact, a 2017 study showed that flu vaccination can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from flu.
Different flu vaccines are approved for use in different groups of people. There are flu shots approved for use in children as young as 6 months of age and flu shots approved for use in adults 65 years and older.
Flu shots also are recommended for use in pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions. The nasal spray flu vaccine is approved for use in non-pregnant individuals, 2 years through 49 years of age. People with some medical conditions should not receive the nasal spray flu vaccine.
There are many vaccine options to choose from. CDC does not recommend one flu vaccine over another. The most important thing is for all people 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine every year. If you have questions about which vaccine is best for you, talk to your doctor or other health care professional.
Kane County also offers flu vaccine.
More information is available at Who Should Get Vaccinated Against Influenza.
SOURCE: CDC, Kane County Health Department