DENVER — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says the young child who died from the flu in early January was from the Denver metro area and was only partially vaccinated.
Doctors say when a child under the age of 9 gets the flu vaccine for the first time, the child needs two doses — at least four weeks apart — to be protected. This child apparently did not get the second dose.
“It’s an unfortunate but important reminder of the importance of two doses of influenza vaccine for young children who are receiving influenza vaccine for the first time,” said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, who is the state communicable disease epidemiologist.
Herlihy says the child had the H1N1 strain, which is the predominant strain this year.
That is also the strain Selina Nguyen has. The 7-year-old went into a coma, and at last check was still battling symptoms at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
It is later in the season, and doctors say it’s possible the flu activity is plateauing, but doctors still recommend getting the flu vaccine. Flu can develop into pneumonia or other breathing difficulties, especially in high-risk groups.
“It’s a tragedy, and I think a reminder of the importance of influenza vaccination, and importance of seeking care early for influenza, especially in high-risk groups,” Herlihy said.