Young child in Pierce County dies from flu complications

PIERCE COUNTY -- A child younger than 5 years old with underlying health issues died from flu-related complications over the weekend, according to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

This is the second flu-related death reported in Pierce County of the 2019-2020 season.

“Sadly, flu strains currently in circulation this season have hit the very young hard,” said Communicable Disease Control Division Director Nigel Turner. “When you get a flu shot, you strengthen the circle of protection around people who may be vulnerable to complications from the virus,” he said.

Children 5 and younger are among those most at risk for flu complications. So far this flu season, at least 19 other children in this age range have died because of the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC recommends flu shots for everyone 6 months and older. The Washington Vaccines for Children Program gives free vaccines to kids under age 19.

The Pierce County child's death comes less than 10 days after a King County child also died from flu complications.

The child was healthy before contracting the flu and died Dec. 15 at a Pierce County hospital. Public health officials haven't released the child's age or which hospital the child was admitted to.

That child's death is the fourth King County flu-related death this year.

Health officials also haven't said whether the children who died had received a flu vaccine.