Officials say a child is first to die in Florida flu season

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida health officials say a child is the first to die during this year’s flu season.

The Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Epidemiology said in a report the unidentified child tested positive for influenza B and died between Sept. 30 and Oct. 6. The report did not say where the child died but did say the child was otherwise healthy. The child had not been vaccinated.

In the first week of the flu season, the state had only two flu or flu-like outbreaks. One was an unspecific strain and the other was strep throat. The Tampa Bay Times reports both strains hit schools in Hillsborough County.

State officials said those outbreaks did not cause the child’s death. No other details were released.

A new survey suggests that many children may not be getting the potentially life-saving flu shot because of their parents’ misconceptions about the safety and importance of vaccines.

The survey by Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital found:

  • More than half of parents think that their child can get the flu from the flu shot.
  • 30 percent of parents feel flu vaccines are a conspiracy.
  • 28 percent of parents believe flu vaccines can cause autism.

“None of these things are true. It’s important that we deal with the science and the facts,” CBS News medical contributor Dr. Tara Narula said.

The CDC is urging everyone older than six months old to get vaccinated now. Flu activity often begins to increase in October, so they expect to see an influx in flu cases in the coming weeks.

Of the 183 kids who died from the flu last season, 80 percent were unvaccinated. Parents can opt for the nasal mist this year, and even if the flu vaccine is not a perfect match for the strain, health officials say it decreases symptoms and severity.