GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - This flu season has already claimed the lives of 20 children, and the latest is a 12 year old from Michigan.
Michael Messenger showed signs of the flu and was taken to urgent care, where his vitals were normal and he was sent home. But, two days later, he was barely responsive, and was later pronounced dead at St. John River District Hospital in St. Clair County.
In the last week, doctors have seen an uptick in flu-related visits while the rate of flu hospitalizations nearly doubled.
The CDC is now calling this year’s flu season an epidemic, and says although we are at the peak of the season, we likely have 11 to 13 weeks left.
The Type A virus that is circulating hits children and the elderly harder because it takes more of a toll on the immune system.
Here's a look at pediatric deaths from previous years in Michigan, according the the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services:
In a news conference Tuesday, Jan. 16, on this year’s flu, the CDC talked about how fast the Type A flu virus is mutating. That's one of the reasons why it is so hard to match the Type A virus to a vaccine.
It's still not too late to get a flu shot. It takes two weeks to have immunity.
If your child has never been vaccinated for the flu and they are under the age of 9, they will need two shots to jump start their immune system to give them the best protection.
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