According to state health officials, this flu season has claimed its first life in Florida. Epidemiologists at the Florida Department of Health announced that a currently unnamed child fell victim to influenza B and died sometime between the last day of September and October 6th.
Per a BuzzFeed News report, the child had not been vaccinated against influenza but was otherwise in perfectly good health. Florida has now reported two separate outbreaks so far this flu season. One was of a sickness very similar to influenza while the other was a mix of influenza and strep throat.
Strep throat is actually caused by a bacteria called group A Streptococcus. This bacteria can also affect the rest of the respiratory system if left unchecked. A vaccine against Influenza, a respiratory disease, can lower the likelihood that similar illnesses get out of hand and spread. Both outbreaks stemmed from schools and camps for kids, and it just so happens to be that children are among the most vulnerable to influenza. Regardless, flu season doesn’t peak until around February and in October infection rates across Florida are typically much much lower.
Still, last flu season was one of the most devastating in recent memory, killing over 80,000 people. Of those killed by influenza last year, 180 of them were children. During that same season, just about 58 percent of Americans between six months and 17-years-old. Now, a vaccine will not totally ensure that someone won’t get the flu at all, but consider that 80 percent of the kids who died from influenza last year were unvaccinated. The flu shot isn’t a full proof measure, but it can definitely reduce the severity of the illness and prevent it from becoming life-threatening.
Despite the persistent movement of parents who elect to not vaccinate, the CDC stands by flu shots as the most reliable method for preventing death or hospitalization due to influenza.