First Infant Death Attributed to the Flu Confirmed in Central California

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flu shot

A nurse practitioner prepares an influenza shot. (Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

On Friday, California public health officials announced the first reported influenza-associated death of a person under the age of 12 months old for the 2015-2016 flu season.

The fatality occurred in Stanislaus County, according to a news release from the California Department of Public Health.

No other information about the case was released.

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Children who are less than a year old are at increased risk of severe influenza, according to State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. But babies under 6 months of age are too young to be vaccinated, she said.

“It is especially troubling when a baby, too young to be vaccinated, passes away,” Smith stated in the release. “To protect babies who cannot yet be vaccinated, we should get our flu shots. Preventing the spread of this often deadly disease is why getting vaccinated is so important.”

Anyone who is around a young child or other high-risk person was urged to be vaccinated to reduce the risk of spreading influenza. Influenza viruses circulate at their peak levels from December through April, Smith stated.

“Two of this season’s vaccine components, the influenza A (H3N2) and influenza B (Yamagata lineage) strains, have been updated to match the viruses Californians are likely to face during the 2015-2016 flu season,” the release stated.

Common symptoms of the flu include fever or feeling feverish, a cough and/or sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, chills, fatigue and body aches. Children may also have nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

More information about the flu is available at the CDPH influenza web page.

To find a flu vaccine location near you, visit

Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated the age at which a baby can be vaccinated.