Highland County toddler becomes first Ohio flu death of 2019

Posted at 11:40 PM, Feb 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-06 12:52:48-05

A toddler from Highland County on Tuesday became Ohio’s first pediatric flu death of the 2018-2019 flu season, according to a news release from the Ohio Department of Health.

The Highland County Health Department will investigate the 3-year-old boy’s death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes children like him — those under five years of age — are among the groups at highest risk of flu-related complications that can lead to death.

Other vulnerable groups include adults over 65, pregnant women and those with certain health conditions such as HIV, cancer or asthma.

The Ohio Department of Health’s news release urged all Ohioans over 6 months of age to be vaccinated against the virus.

“It’s not too late to get a flu shot,” state epidemiologist Sietske de Fijter said. “Getting the flu vaccine is the safest and most effective way to prevent the flu for everyone 6 months and older.”

Dr. Stephen Feagins, vice president of Medical Affairs at Mercy Hospital, says skipping the flu vaccine is a mistake, even though our flu season is more mild this year.

"We may see a resurgence of it later,” Feagins said. “It can peak at any month. It hasn't yet peaked and may actually peak in February… once again the vaccine works and that's the primary prevention for influenza."

Six Ohio children died during the 2017-2018 flu season, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Feagins said if you do get sick, you should stay home, take Tylenol and drink plenty of fluids.

Click here to see where you can get vaccinated.