An Otherwise Healthy Toddler Died of Flu, Reminding Everyone of the Importance of the Vaccine

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Every year certain people argue against the flu vaccine on the grounds that the flu is normal and common. It’s as though the flu is a fact of life like stubbing one’s toe or getting a paper cut. But just because an illness is extremely common does not mean it isn’t dangerous. Last week an otherwise healthy toddler died of the flu in Orange County, California. His tragic death is reminding everybody that the flu can be deadly, and vaccines save lives. Authorities are urging everybody who can get the flu vaccine do so.

Children as young as six months old can get the flu vaccine. The CDC recommends flu vaccines for everyone over 6 months old, including pregnant women. The flu is more dangerous for small children, especially children under the age of five, and elderly people, so flu vaccines are especially recommended for them. According to ABC 7 News, the little boy who died was between one and three years old. He was healthy before he came down with the flu, and had no underlying conditions. He had not been vaccinated against the flu, though.

“This is an important reminder that influenza can cause serious illness, particularly in the very young,” O.C. Health Officer Dr. Eric Handler said in a statement. “Everyone over six months of age should be vaccinated each year.”

People die of the flu every year.

The flu can be deadly. Last year 101 children died of the flu in the U.S. A few months ago Minnesota mom Gwen Zwanziger wrote a gutting essay about her 17-year-old daughter, Shannon, who died in her arms in 2014 after having been sick with the flu for a week. Shannon hadn’t gotten a flu vaccine, and her mother will always wonder what would have happened if she’d pushed her to get one.

Vaccines do work. A recent study in Pediatrics said flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu-related death by 51 percent among high-risk children with underlying conditions, and by 65 percent in healthy children. Three out of four cases of pediatric flu death occurred in children who had not received flu vaccines.

Kids need vaccines, and to stay home when they’re sick.

It also helps for healthy adults to get vaccinated. That reduces their chance of spreading the flu to more vulnerable people.

Also, people with the flu should stay home from work or school.

“Or else you might live wondering if a classmate died because your child brought that strain into the classroom,” Gwen Zwanziger wrote.

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(Image: iStockPhoto / scyther5)