24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
Fax: (361)578-5500

Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Basic InformationMore InformationLatest News
AHA News: For Kids, a Pandemic of Stress Could Have Long-Term Consequences6 Expert Tips for Defusing Kids' Quarantine MeltdownsFor Many Kids, Picky Eating Isn't Just a Phase, Study FindsSure-Fire Solutions for Managing Lockdown Temper TantrumsKeeping Kids Slim, Fit During Lockdown Isn't Easy: Here Are Some TipsCOVID-19 Antibodies May Tame Inflammatory Condition in Kids: StudyCould Certain Chemicals Trigger Celiac Disease?Italian Doctors Detail Cases of Inflammatory Condition in Kids With COVID-19AHA News: Is Your Child's Blood Pressure Something to Worry About?Zika Virus Tied to Profound Developmental DelaysCOVID-19 Still Rare in Kids, But Far From Harmless: StudyKids' ER Visits for Mental Health Problems Soared Over 10 YearsTo Prevent Injuries, Give Your Kids a Pass on Cutting the GrassFewer Kids in Cancer Trials, Which Might Not Be a Bad ThingLoving Family May Lower Future Depression Risk in KidsBest Ways to Help Kids Through the PandemicIn Rare Cases, COVID-19 May Be Causing Severe Heart Condition in KidsReplace That Old Carpet to Shield Your Kids From ToxinsCoronavirus Crisis Has Fewer Kids Getting Needed VaccinesAHA News: Traumatic Childhood Increases Lifelong Risk for Heart Disease, Early DeathFDA Bans Products That Help Kids Hide Vape Use From ParentsCalm Parenting Will Help Children Through Coronavirus PandemicStudy Confirms Safety, Effectiveness of Children's VaccinesUp to 50,000 U.S. Kids May Be Hospitalized With COVID-19 by Year's EndAre Immune-Compromised Kids at Greater Risk From COVID-19?All That Social Media Hasn't Hurt Kids' Social Skills, Study FindsKids of Mentally Ill Parents Have Higher Injury OddsSchool Closures Could Be Adding to Kids' WaistlinesU.S. Study Finds COVID-19 Seldom Severe in KidsWhy Your Kids' Playground Is Unsafe During COVID-19 PandemicSchool Closures Will Force Many U.S. Health Care Workers to Stay HomeGoing Easy on Yourself Is Key to Parenting Through the PandemicParents, Arm Your Kids Against COVID-19 With Good Hand-Washing HabitsToo Little Sleep Takes Toll on Kids' Mental Health: StudyU.S. Kids, Teens Eating Better But Nutrition Gaps PersistHow to Keep Housebound Kids Busy During a PandemicCalming Your Child's Coronavirus FearsAnother Study Finds COVID-19 Typically Mild for KidsSoap vs. Coronavirus: Best Hand-Washing Tips for You and Your KidsKids Get Mild COVID-19 Symptoms, But Chance of Transmission High: StudyWhen Chronic Pain Leads to Depression in KidsPost-Game Snacks May Undo Calorie-Burning Benefit of Kids' SportsPick Summer Camps Carefully When Your Kid Has Allergies, AsthmaKids Raised by Grandparents More Likely to Pile on Pounds: StudyKeep Your Kids Safe, Warm in Wintertime FunHow to Dispel Your Child's Fears About the New CoronavirusDiabetes Among U.S. Young, Especially Asians, Continues to ClimbMom-to-Be's Cosmetics Chemicals Could Lead to Heavier BabyMeds May Not Prevent Migraines in KidsAHA News: For Kids With Heart Defects, the Hospital Near Mom May Matter
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Child Development & Parenting: Infants (0-2)
Child Development & Parenting: Early (3-7)

This Year's Flu Season Taking Deadly Aim at Kids

HealthDay News
by By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Jan 22nd 2020

new article illustration

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- How bad or how long this year's flu season will be remains to be seen. But one thing is already clear: It's proving to be an especially lethal season for infected children.

Fueled by a strain of influenza that children may be especially vulnerable to, less than two months into flu season 39 children have already died, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Behind that number lie tragedies like these:

  • Just after New Year's Day, flu claimed the life of 15-year-old Lacie Rian Fisher of Canton, N.C. Fisher was a healthy, athletic teen with no known pre-existing medical issues, but she had not yet been inoculated with this year's flu vaccine, USA Today reported. She died just three days after first feeling ill.
  • On Jan. 9, 11-year-old Luca Calanni became the second child to die from flu in New York state. The sports-loving boy died three days after first being seen by a doctor about the flu, according to the Buffalo News.
  • On Jan. 13, 12-year-old Paloma Olivia Harris became the fourth child to die of the flu in the state of Tennessee, the Blount County Daily Times reported. Her obituary described her as "a beautiful girl with so much love to give."

And even when very ill children survive the flu, the after-effects can be devastating. Last month, 4-year-old Jade DeLucia waged a two-week life-and-death battle with the flu, USA Today reported. She survived, but her illness left the Iowa girl with brain damage that has left her at least temporarily blind.

These and other tragedies should remind parents that "flu illness is more dangerous than the common cold for children," said Dr. Alicia Fry. She's chief of the epidemiology and prevention branch in the influenza division of the CDC.

"Each year, millions of children get sick with seasonal flu," she said, and "thousands of children are hospitalized. And, tragically, some children die from flu."

Influenza B returns

According to the CDC, there were 187 pediatric flu-related deaths in 2017-2018 and 143 in 2018-2019. But this year, pediatric death numbers are already abnormally high.

The reason may have something to do with the unusual way in which this particular flu season has unfolded. The flu, explained Fry, comes in two major strains: A and B. Typically A strain infections are more common at first, followed later in the season by a smaller wave of B infections. But this year B infections have dominated from the outset.

"It has been many years since we have seen this much influenza B virus circulating at this point in the flu season," Fry observed.

That's troubling, she said, because children seem to be particularly vulnerable to the B virus threat. In fact, 28 of the 39 children who've died this year -- including Lacie Rian Fisher -- are known to have contracted the B strain.

Exactly why the B strain is such a pediatric threat is not entirely clear, an infectious disease expert noted.

"The real answer is that we don't really understand why influenza B hits kids harder than it does adults," acknowledged Richard Webby, of the infectious diseases department at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

The most likely reason is that B virus doesn't change all that much year-to-year, said Webby, who's also a member of the World Health Organization's Vaccine Composition Team.

That means that adults naturally gain a greater defense against B than children do, because older people have been exposed to B in prior years.

Vaccination crucial

So what should parents do?

"It is not too late to get vaccinated," urged Huong McLean, a research scientist with the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Population Health at the Marshfield Clinic Research Institute in Marshfield, Wisc. "The season often continues through March and into April. And vaccination is highly recommended as long as flu viruses are circulating."

McLean, Fry and Webby each acknowledged that vaccine effectiveness can vary year to year -- and it remains to be seen exactly how effective this year's vaccine will be. Early data on the effectiveness of this year's flu shot is expected by the end of February.

It's also the case that no vaccine is foolproof: Luca Calanni contracted the A strain of the flu despite being inoculated.

But vaccination is still the best defense available for anyone -- adult or child.

"Flu can be a very serious disease, even in healthy people, and vaccination offers the best protection," McLean stressed. The CDC advises that all children 6 months of age and older get a flu shot.

And "if you or your child have not yet gotten a flu vaccination this season, it's not too late to get vaccinated," Fry said. "There is still quite a lot of flu circulating, and we expect activity to remain elevated for weeks to come."

Webby agreed.

"There is still plenty of time left in the flu season," he said. "Last year we actually saw two 'mini-flu' seasons, one following the other. If the same happens, of which there is no guarantee, the vaccine would be received in time for the second peak."

More information

There's more on the flu vaccine at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.