Physicians warn about dangers of pediatric flu

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) -- This year’s flu season claimed its first child death.

Texas health officials say the five-year-old wasn’t vaccinated. Children between 6-months to 5-years of age are in highest-risk age group.

The flu season is just beginning, and health experts expect it to be tough. They warn that it is indeed a deadly virus for children.

It’s a time of year where we often remind you that the best defense against the flu is to get that flu shot. It’s also a time of year where we may report that children under the age of five end up in the hospital or even die from complications of the flu.

“Any child older than 6-months of age should receive the flu vaccine. And it’s not too late. A lot of people will think that’s it’s too late and it’s really not,” said Tedra Smith, Assistant Professor and Pediatric Nurse at UAB.

Smith says the flu activity in the state will keep rising. Prevention is key.

The virus is transmitted very easily. Things like consistently washing hands and teaching a child to cough in their sleeve, even after receiving the flu vaccine, is important.

Parents should be aware of the early signs that could include vomiting and diarrhea. And warns, don’t mistake these symptoms as just a common cold.

“It’s more severe than the common cold. A lot of people fear getting the flu vaccine because they fear that it’s going to give them the flu which is not true. Getting the flu vaccine may not mean you don’t get the flu, but it will decrease the severity so it’s still very, very important to get the flu vaccine,” says Smith.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 130 flu-associated pediatric deaths last year during the flu season.

UAB has been active in offering the flu vaccine to its patients.

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