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Kalamazoo County child is first Michigan youth to die of flu this season

This story appeared in The Detroit Free Press. Read more here.

The first Michigan child to die of influenza this season was from Kalamazoo County, the state health department announced Friday.

The child had the A/H3 strain of the flu virus, but no other details about the case were available. Nationally, at least 16 children have died of influenza-associated illness since the fall.

“Flu vaccine is a recommended childhood vaccine, and it is important to ensure that children are up to date with all of their vaccines,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, chief medical executive for the state health department.

“Once children reach 6 months of age it is recommended they receive two doses of the flu vaccine for their first series. In addition, pregnant women should get the flu vaccine during each pregnancy. Flu vaccine can be given at the same time as other vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine.”

The state health department said it isn’t too late for people to get a flu vaccine, noting it’s especially important for people who are at higher risk for severe illness from the virus, such as children, adults ages 65 years and older, and anyone who is pregnant or has underlying medical conditions.

Only 32% of Michigan residents have been vaccinated against flu this season, the state health department said.

And flu vaccine coverage among children ages 6 months through 17 years is 25.8% — lower this flu season at than it was during the 2020-21 flu season, when 31.2% of kids in that age group were vaccinated for flu in Michigan.

Although it has been a relatively mild flu season for Michigan and most of the U.S., there has been a recent rise in flulike illness and hospitalizations, the state health department reported.

Nearly all of the positive influenza specimens confirmed by the state Bureau of Laboratories this season have been Influenza A/H3 virus. This virus can cause severe flu infections in children as well as in adults.

Since October, there have been about 3.8 million flu illnesses and 2,300 deaths from flu nationally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.

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