By Jon Cronin, Editor
A fourth flu-related pediatric death in the city has been confirmed by the city’s Department of Health and Hygiene—and according to sources, the child was at a student at PS 139 in Rego Park.
Julien Martinez, a spokesman for the DOH, said that the agency urged parents to get their children vaccinated.
“The tragic death of a child due to the flu is a reminder of the devastating effects this illness can have on people of all ages,” he said. “The influenza season is far from over, and it is not too late to get the flu shot. We urge parents to protect themselves and their families by getting this potentially life-saving vaccine today.”
He noted that parents should be aware that flu vaccines are also available at local pharmacies for children as young as 2 years old. Martinez added that during this flu season, people should be aware that those with compromised immune systems—such as children, pregnant women and citizens over the age of 65—who develop influenza-like symptoms should quickly seek the aid of a doctor.
The city also gives out information regarding locations where residents can get vaccinated via 311. Residents can also visit nyc.gov/flu or text “flu” to 877877.”
The DOH noted that for the 2016-2017 influenza season, there have been 106 influenza-associated pediatric deaths nationally. Six of those pediatric deaths were in New York City.
The agency reported that in the past 14 years, there has been zero to eight pediatric flu deaths reported each year.
Recently, the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center sent out an announcement regarding the treatment of those with the flu virus.
“As the cold and flu season approaches its peak, more patients are going to their physicians in hope of receiving antibiotics. Unfortunately, many think that antibiotics are the answer, but they are not always the answer,” said Dr. Luigi Tullo, a family medicine physician at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. “Antibiotics are appropriate for bacterial infections, but not for viruses such as the flu and other upper respiratory tract infections.”
The hospital released a statement regarding the use of antibiotics to fight the flu virus.
“Over-prescribing antibiotics can lead to the drugs becoming less effective when they are really needed,” the statement read. “Another cause for concern is the evolution of bacteria. When exposed to the same antibiotic repeatedly, bacteria can become resistant to the very medications that were intended to eradicate them. As a result, many life-threatening super-bugs and illnesses can develop.”
Reach reporter Jon Cronin via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 357-7400, ext. 125.