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Stanislaus County infant dies of flu; state officials urge vaccination

Influenza vaccination

Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, received a flu vaccine during a September news conference advocating for the shots.

 

(Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty Images)

State health officials Friday announced the first flu-related death of an infant in California during the current flu season.

Karen Smith, the state public health officer, used the news of the child’s death in Stanislaus County as an opportunity to urge widespread vaccination against influenza, including for children as young as 6 months and anyone who is in contact with babies not old enough to be vaccinated.

“As California’s public health officer, I am saddened when the flu turns into loss of life,” Smith said in a statement.

“It is especially troubling when a baby, too young to be vaccinated, passes away. To protect babies who cannot yet be vaccinated, we should get our flu shots,” she said. “Preventing the spread of this often deadly disease is why getting vaccinated is so important.”

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According to a Stanislaus County announcement, the child died Tuesday and had some “underlying medical conditions.”

The state Department of Public Health recommends annual flu shots for everyone 6 months of age and older, including pregnant women.

According to a recent report, 78 people under the age of 65 died from influenza-associated illnesses during the 2014-15 influenza season in California.

Such deaths are reported to the state only involving victims younger than 65, so the actual number of deaths due to influenza was much greater because older people are especially vulnerable to the flu, officials said.

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