The child, who was described only as being between five and 12 years old and living in Virginia's southwest region, died from complications associated with influenza, officials said.
"We offer our deepest condolences to the family of this child," said State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH in a statement. "Flu can be a very dangerous illness. With Virginia and many other states experiencing high or very high levels of flu activity, I urge everyone who is eligible to receive the flu vaccine to do so as soon as possible, consulting your physician as needed. While we can never stop all cases of flu, the best way to reduce your risk is to get the vaccine, which is available to anyone over 6 months of age."
Health officials say Virginia is experiencing early and very high flu activity this year compared to previous flu seasons. Emergency department and urgent care center visits for flu-like illness are also very high.
Last year, Virginia only reported one influenza-associated death among children for the entire flu season.
The Virginia Department of Health recommends:
- Everyone 6 months & older should receive a yearly flu vaccine;
- Practice good preventive health with hand hygiene (washing your hands regularly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer), respiratory etiquette (coughing and sneezing into a tissue or the inside of your elbow rather than your open hand), and staying home when you feel sick; and
- Take antivirals as prescribed by your physician if you do become sick with the flu.