LANSING (WWJ) – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is confirming the first pediatric flu death in the state this season.

This flu season has seen elevated activity across the country over the past few weeks, with some of the highest hospitalization rates ever recorded according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The reported death involves a child from the Upper Peninsula, but no further information was provided. Nationally, there have been more than 50 influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported during the 2017-2018 flu season, the CDC says.

MDHHS strongly recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a seasonal flu vaccine — and it is not too late.

“The vaccine is your best defense against the flu and will help reduce the severity of symptoms if you catch the flu despite being vaccinated,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive for MDHHS. “And remember, if you or your child is sick, stay home to help protect others.”

[Doctor: Why Your Sick Child May Not Need Tamiflu]

More than three quarters of the positive influenza specimens confirmed by MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories this flu season have been an H3N2 virus. This virus can cause severe flu infections in children, as well as in young- and middle-aged adults.

The MDHHS stressed that the flu vaccine is the best way to prevent getting the flu and can also reduce the severity of flu illness; and the CDC recommends that everyone six months of age and older get a flu shot.

Additionally, people can prevent transmission of the flu virus by taking the following precautions:

• Staying home from work when sick
• Keeping sick children home from school
• Washing hands often
• Covering coughs and sneezes
• Disinfecting frequently touched surfaces

The flu vaccine is typically available at your family doctor’s office and is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most other health insurance providers. Michiganders can get a walk-in vaccine at a CVS Pharmacy Minute Clinic , at a Kroger Pharmacy or Meijer Pharmacy near you — or check check out the Health Map Vaccine Finder at Flushot.healthmap.orgGet more information about the flu at this link.

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