A 4-year-old from Perris died after testing positive for influenza, marking the first flu-related death of the 2019-2020 season in Riverside County, health officials said Wednesday.
The child, from Perris, had underlying medical issues and died at a facility outside of the county, according to a statement from the Riverside University Health System Public Health.
Officials have not identified the child.
The 4-year-old’s death is the first tied to flu for the new influenza season, the statement read.
There were nine deaths associated with flu during the 2018-2019 season, and 23 the season before that.
“We should never forget that the flu still kills,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county’s public health officer. “Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones who are grieving.”
Kaiser noted that it’s not too early to get vaccinated against influenza.
“I always recommend people get their flu shots every year, but a death so early in the flu season suggests this year may be worse than usual,” he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone over the age of 6 months get vaccinated annually, according to Kaiser. Children age 8 or younger may need two shots to be fully protected if they haven’t received at least two flu vaccinations in prior years.
Frequent hand washing and avoiding those who are infected are other ways to avoid contracting the virus, Kaiser said. Those who are ill should stay home from work and school, he added.
More information about flu shots, including where to get them in Riverside County, can be found here.