Pa.’s first flu death arrives just before season officially begins

    The Pennsylvania Department of Health has confirmed the first flu death of the season.

    The 45-year old man from Lehigh County died yesterday of the 2009 H1N1 influenza.

    State Secretary of Health Michael Huff said the man did have some underlying health conditions.  Huff is investigating whether the man received this year’s flu shot.

    The official start of the flu season isn’t until December 3rd , but health officials hope the death motives people to get immunized.

    Huff said it’s still early but fewer people are getting immunized this year compared to last.  “Anytime someone dies it’s a tragic reminder of the importance of getting immunized and to that end with the experiences we had last year the CDC is now recommending that individuals from 6 months on be immunized for influenza,” he said.

    This year’s flu shot includes H1N1 and two seasonal strains.

    Marla Gold is the Dean of Public Health at Drexel University. She said this year’s flu season is starting off as a typical one, but hopes people won’t be complacent. She said,

    “It should not take an epidemic that harms thousands if not more people and ends up causing death that gets everyone to get their shots,” said Gold. “This is good taking care of oneself, good hygiene and good prevention and we want to see everyone do it,” she said.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control an estimated 12,000 people have died nationwide because of H1N1.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.