Maui News

Hawaii’s First Child Flu Death of Season is 4-Year-Old Girl

January 23, 2013, 9:43 AM HST
* Updated January 23, 11:46 AM
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Safeway Hawaii Pharmacies on Maui are now offering in-store flu shots on a “walk-in” basis until May 2013. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Safeway Hawaii Pharmacies on Maui are among the island locations now offering in-store flu shots on a “walk-in” basis until May 2013. Photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

The state’s first flu-related pediatric death of the season was confirmed today by the state Department of Health.

Authorities say the individual was a 4-year-old female who died at a Honolulu hospital on Jan. 20.

“This is an uncommon and tragic death,” said Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist, in a media statement today. “Not every child will become this seriously ill from the flu; however, it is a wake-up call for everyone to protect themselves and their loved ones against the flu. The flu vaccine is still the best method of protection and recommended for everyone six months of age and older.”

State health officials say despite the death, flu activity in Hawai’i is still considered low when compared with mainland states.

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According to DOH officials, the seasonal flu is one of many illnesses that are prevented through vaccination. Vaccinating each child born in the United States in a given year following the current childhood immunization schedule, authorities say, could prevent approximately 42,000 deaths and 20 million cases of disease.

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For information on locations where the flu vaccine is available, individuals can visit the following direct link: http://www.flu.hawaii.gov/VaccineLocator.html, or call 2-1-1. It is recommended that interested individuals call in advance to make appointments, as late season demand has affected vaccine availability.

Other methods for reducing the spread of flu include: washing hands often with soap and water, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying at home when sick.

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