RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. - A 4-year-old child from Perris who recently died tested positive for influenza, health officials said Wednesday. The child's death was the first pediatric flu-associated death of the 2019-20 flu season in Riverside County.
Health officials said that the child, who has not been publically identified, had underlying health issues and passed away at a medical facility outside of the county.
There were nine flu-associated deaths in the county in 2018-2019, and 23 during 2017-2018.
According to Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County Public Health Officer, the child’s death is a tragic reminder of how deadly influenza can be.
“We should never forget that the flu still kills,” Kaiser said. “I always recommend people get their flu shots every year, but a death so early in the flu season suggests this year may be worse than usual. Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones who are grieving.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend all persons 6 months of age and older receive a flu vaccination each year. Kaiser said it's not too early to get a flu shot and many providers have this year’s shot already in stock.
Children 8 years old and under who haven’t received at least two flu shots in prior seasons may need two shots to be fully protected, Riverside University Health System Public Health officials said.
Kaiser also recommends frequent hand washing and avoiding getting close to people who are sick as ways to avoid the flu. If you or your child are sick, stay home from work and school.
For more information on where flu shots are being offered throughout Riverside County, click here.