Toddler's Tragic Flu Death Sparks Urgent Warnings to Get Kids Vaccinated

baby getting a shot
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For the past month or so, everyone from doctors to pharmacy technicians have been reminding us to make time to get our flu shots. Now, California officials are issuing a tragic warning that flu season is officially upon us after a toddler died from the flu in Orange County.

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The toddler, whose name and exact age were not released, died from complications related to Influenza A. Officials tell ABC 7 the toddler was not vaccinated against the flu but was otherwise healthy. His death marks the first flu death in a person under 65 years of age in Orange County this year.

While we tend to think of the flu as similar to a common cold, Dr. Matt Zahn of the Orange County Health Agency told ABC 7, "[This toddler's death] is a painful reminder of how serious flu infection can be. Everyone over 6 months of age should be vaccinated each year."

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Flu season usually peaks from December to February, but doctors start seeing confirmed cases of the flu as early as October. According to CBS LA, Orange County already has 92 confirmed cases of the flu, compared with only 17 confirmed cases at this same time last year. Already, officials have warned that this could be a particularly bad year for the flu in the US, after Australia saw about 94,000 cases of the flu this year, which is double its average.

Flu symptoms usually include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills, and fatigue. In serious cases, the flu can also lead to complications like bacterial pneumonia, ear infection, sinus infection, and even heart failure.

Last year, 101 US kids died of the flu. The illness is more dangerous for children under 5, but the good news is that kids as young as 6 months can get the flu vaccine, which is proven to cut the risk of getting the flu by 51 percent in high-risk kids and 65 percent in kids with no other medical conditions.

If you or your kids haven't yet had a chance to get vaccines, there's still time. Most doctors' offices and clinics around the country are offering the shot. It's also available at pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens, and even at Walmart, Target, and many regional grocery store chains. As always, you should contact your child's doctor if you have any questions.

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