Health officials address flu outbreak after 2 pediatric deaths

Posted: Updated:
NEW YORK -

The New York City Department of Health is addressing the rampant flu outbreak after confirming two pediatric deaths citywide.

Health officials say those two deaths were in fact linked to the flu, adding to the more than 50 children reported to have died from the flu across the country.

Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett stressed at a news conference Tuesday that it's not too late to get the flu shot. This season, officials say they have seen the highest surge of emergency visits stemming from flu-like symptoms in the past four years.

News 12 is told that the flu is present this season in every state of the continental United States. The most dominant strain is H3N2. Some reports indicate that the flu vaccine is only 17 percent effective against the H3N2 strain. But health officials say they cannot accurately assess the effectiveness of the vaccine for at least another couple of weeks.

Bassett says the vaccine has been 30 percent effective in the past. It's unclear if the two kids who died in New York City were vaccinated. Last year, there were 106 pediatric deaths reported nationwide, with six of them being in New York City.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warning signs to look out for in children with the flu include fast or labored breathing, bluish skin color, dehydration, irritability, fever with a rash and symptoms returning after subsiding.

Health officials say residents can get a free flu shot at any NYC Health + Hospitals facility. It's recommended for anyone 6 months and older.

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