Following child’s flu death, health officials again stress need for shot

    The death of a young child — who had been vaccinated — from flu has left many shocked and saddened in the Burlington, N.J., area.

    Health-care professionals still say a flu vaccination is still the best defense.

    Over the weekend the elementary school student died after becoming infected with influenza B.

    Jennifer Horner, epidemiologist for Burlington County, said there are two strains of influenza B going around in the community. The vaccine now available covers only one of them.

    “There is another influenza B strain that is circulating that is not covered,” she said. “We don’t know what the situation was in this particular case, but that is also one possibility when the vaccine doesn’t give the type of coverage we hope that it would.”

    Horner’s office is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control to determine which strain of influenza B the child had.

    Keith Herzog of St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children said while it’s rare for a seemingly healthy child to die of the flu, it’s not unheard of. The annual shot is about 80 percent effective, but that shouldn’t deter people from getting the shot.

    “There’s no question influenza activity is still very, very active in the region and probably will continue for a few weeks,” he said. “So there is still an opportunity to protect them this season and certainly protect them next season.”

    The county’s health department will hold another vaccination clinic Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Burlington Center Mall to immunize anyone who hasn’t received a flu shot yet.

    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.