Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is reporting the first pediatric flu-related death for the 2023-2024 flu season. A child in the western part of the state recently died from complications associated with influenza infection. To protect the family’s privacy, additional information will not be released.

“We extend our sincere condolences to this child’s family after their tragic loss,” said NCDHHS State Epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore. “Vaccination is the most effective protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death from flu, RSV and COVID-19 infections, and there is still time to protect children this respiratory virus season.”

North Carolina has seen a rise in flu cases in recent weeks in combination with rising RSV cases and continued COVID-19 activity. Five adult flu-associated deaths have already been reported in North Carolina this season, and according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one other state has reported a pediatric flu death as of November 11.

Flu vaccinations are especially important for children who are at higher risk of developing severe disease or complications, including those younger than 5 years old, especially under 2 years, or those with chronic health problems like asthma, diabetes or a weakened immune system.

The CDC recommends all children ages 6 months and older receive a seasonal flu vaccine. The CDC also recommends everyone age 5 years and older should get one dose of an updated COVID-19 vaccine. Children ages 6 months to 4 years old need multiple doses of COVID-19 vaccines to be up to date, including at least one dose of an updated vaccine.

Parents should talk with their health care provider about options to protect infants from severe RSV disease, including vaccines for pregnant women during weeks 32 through 36 of pregnancy.

Early testing and treatment can also help prevent flu and COVID-19 infections from becoming more serious in children. Treatment works best if started soon after symptoms begin.

In addition to vaccines and treatment, the following everyday preventive actions should be taken to protect children against respiratory viruses:

♦ Stay home when sick, except to seek medical care or testing, and take steps to avoid spreading infection to others in your home, including Staying in a separate room from other household members, if possible. Using a separate bathroom, if possible. Avoiding contact with other members of the household and pets. Not sharing personal household items, like cups, towels and utensils. Wearing a mask when around other people.

♦ Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue and then discard the tissue promptly

♦ Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner or sanitizer

♦ Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth

♦ Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects that may be contaminated


For more information on flu and COVID-19, including how to access vaccinations, testing and treatment in your community, visit www.vaccines.gov, www.flu.ncdhhs.gov or covid.19.ncdhhs.gov.

NCDHHS tracks COVID-19, influenza, RSV and other respiratory viruses circulating and publishes the information weekly on the Respiratory Virus Surveillance Dashboard.