Hawaiʻi Department of Health announces first pediatric influenza death of the season
A state resident under the age of 18 has died of influenza, the Hawaiʻi Department of Health announced today. This is the first death of a child from influenza in Hawai’i during this flu season.
The child was hospitalized at the time of death. Out of respect for the family’s privacy and in compliance with medical privacy laws, no further information about the child is being released.
“We are especially saddened to announce the death of a child in our community. Our thoughts and condolences are with the family at this difficult time,” said State Health Director Dr. Kenneth Fink said in a news release. Department officials encourage protection for anyone six months of age and older through the flu vaccine. “If you or your loved ones have not received the flu vaccine this season, I hope you will consider doing so.”
Vaccines provide protection against the impacts of certain infectious diseases, including influenza and COVID-19, according to the DOH. Keeping up to date on all recommended vaccinations and boosters provides strong protection from severe illness, hospitalization, and death, the department advises.
Hawai’i’s last pediatric death from influenza occurred in January 2020. In the prior 10 years, Hawai’i has recorded six pediatric deaths due to influenza. During the height of the pandemic, Hawai’i experienced very low rates of flu in residents of all ages.
“The restrictions we put in place for COVID-19 protected us from other respiratory viruses as well,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble, “That’s likely the reason there were no pediatric influenza deaths during the last three years.”
Many respiratory viruses are circulating in Hawai’i this winter, including flu, COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection, according to the DOH. Symptoms are similar, and it’s usually not possible to tell one from another without a test.
Those at highest risk, including those with underlying health conditions — the elderly, infants, and anyone experiencing severe symptoms — should seek healthcare promptly, for testing and treatment as needed.
More information about influenza and other respiratory diseases is available at https://health.hawaii.gov/docd/disease-types/respiratory-viruses/.