NEW YORK (CBSNewYork.com) — The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene confirmed Friday that a third child has died of flu-related illness during this 2017-2018 flu season.
“The tragic death of a child due to the flu is a reminder of the devastating effects this illness can have on people of all ages,” said Julien A. Martinez of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “The influenza season is far from over, and it is not too late to get the flu shot. We urge parents to protect themselves and their families by getting this potentially life-saving vaccine today.”
The Health Department did not release any information on the child.
Earlier this week, two New York City children were confirmed having died from the flu this season — among them an 8-year-old girl from Corona, Queens.
It was not known Friday whether any of the local kids were vaccinated.
As CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported, the flu season is showing no signs of slowing down. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported the number of children who died from the flu jumped by 10 this week to 63.
Last flu season, there were a total of 106 influenza-associated pediatric deaths nationally. Among them were for six flu-related child deaths in New York City.
Since 2004, up to eight pediatric influenza-associated deaths have been reported to the Health Department each flu season.
Overall nationwide, the flu is sickening patients at a rate the CDC has not seen since the deadly swine flu, or HN1N, epidemic nine years ago.
Ten percent of all deaths last week were caused by the flu or pneumonia.
Moms like Valerie Listwon have been left stressed out by it all. CBS2 met her this week as she was leaving an urgent care center on West 57th Street with her 4-year-old son and sick 6-year-old daughter.
“They both had the flu a month ago and this is her second round with flu,” Listwon said.
Listwon said Tuesday that some places were running low on supplies.
“They just told me they don’t have a lot of flu tests so they’re cutting down to elders and pediatrics,” she said. “So if you go in or I go in, they’re not going to test me for the flu because they don’t have a lot of tests. I just asked for a face mask if I could borrow, and they said they’re out.”
Health care professionals like Dr. Michael Tugetman in the Bronx have been overwhelmed with patients.
“We’re seeing an average of 150 a day,” he said.
More unsettlingly, with more than two months to go, this severe season has not even hit its peak yet.
“It looks like we are on track to break some recent records,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting director of the CDC.
A government report out Friday showed one of every 13 visits to the doctor last week was for fever, cough and other symptoms of the flu. That ties the highest level seen in the U.S. during the 2009 swine flu pandemic.
Hospitals and urgent care centers are also slammed – with influenza widespread in every state except Oregon and Hawaii.
“As of this week, we have more hospitalizations than we have seen in any recent season including severe 2014-2015 season,” Schuchat said.
Officials emphasized that it is possible to get the flu more than once in a season, and since the season runs through May and seems to be getting worse, health experts reminded everyone that there is still plenty of time to protect yourself with the flu vaccine.