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First Pediatric Flu Death Of Season Confirmed In Maricopa County

Published: Friday, February 19, 2016 - 1:10pm
Updated: Friday, February 19, 2016 - 3:18pm

Maricopa County has confirmed its first pediatric flu death of the season. It follows an announcement by the state that the flu is now widespread in Arizona.

The victim is described only as a school-aged girl.

Dr. Bob England, director of the Maricopa County Department of Health, says it’s a sad reminder that we are in the midst of a full-blown flu season and that vaccinations, while far from a cure-all, are still recommended for everyone 6 months old and older.

“Frankly, the flu vaccine isn’t as good as we wished it was. But we can still take more than 90 percent of the flu away if we simply get enough people vaccinated," said England.

England said this year’s main strain, H1N1, also known as swine flu, is particularly virulent. And, while it is late in the flu season, it’s not too late to get your shot.

"It takes a couple of weeks at least for your body to build antibodies. So, if you get the flu vaccine today and you get exposed tomorrow, it’s not going to do you any good. But having said that, trust me, flu will continue to circulate for a long time here," England said.

Last year, one child died from the flu in Maricopa County. Although the number of adults who die is not reported to the state, it’s estimated about 300 die from influenza each year in the county.

Arizona Flu Cases By County, 2014-15

Source: Arizona Department of Health Services