El Paso children at risk for catching the flu this season

El Paso News

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported as of October 6, 2018, a total of 183 child deaths were reported during the 2017-2018 flu season.

About 80% of these deaths occurred in children who had not received a flu vaccination through the season.

According to the CDC, every year about 20,000 children under the age of five are hospitalized due to influenza complications. Some cases can be fatal, for example, during the 2013-2014 flu season, 107 flu-associated child deaths were reported in the United States.

You can see the full CDC report here.

According to the El Paso Department of Public Health, the best way to prevent pediatric deaths due to the flu is immunization.

“Last year we had a very bad flu season, more than 12,000 reported cases, 21 deaths in our community and one pediatric death,” Lead Epidemiologist Fernando Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said last year, influenza cases were severe in El Paso due to lack of vaccinating and highly contagious strains. However he expects a milder flu season this year because of new reinforced vaccines that will fix complications from generic material of last year’s vaccines.

At the El Paso Children’s Hospital, doctors say they have not seen a large amount of flu cases yet, but say it’s coming. Pediatric Hospitalist Ittay Moreno M.D. urges parents of younger children to vaccinate their kids and themselves as well.

“You should be vaccinating since six months of age and forward and for those babies younger than six months, their defense is us being vaccinated,” Moreno said.

While doctors say vaccines are the best way to prevent your kids from catching the flu, they believe raising awareness and educating parents will help keep the cases down to a minimum.

Healthcare providers remind the community to see a doctor if you are feeling sick, clean surfaces that you may touch often such as door knobs, wash your hands frequently and stay home from work when you are sick. Also keep children home from school if they are showing flu-like symptoms.

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