California DPH reports first death of child under age of 5 due to flu, RSV

RSV Vaccines
Posted at 2:42 PM, Nov 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-14 20:30:11-05

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGTV) — The California Department of Public Health has reported the first death of a child under five due to flu and Respiratory Syncytial Virus this winter season.

Health officials say information, including where the death happened, is not being released at this time due to the protection of patient confidentiality.

RELATED: Area hospitals see manageable increase in respiratory illnesses

“Our hearts go out to the family of this young child,” said State Public Health Officer and CDPH Director Dr. Tomás Aragón.

“This tragic event serves as a stark reminder that respiratory viruses can be deadly, especially in very young children and infants. We are entering a busy winter virus season – with RSV, flu, and COVID-19 spreading – and urge parents and guardians to vaccinate their children as soon as possible against flu and COVID-19. It’s also important to follow basic prevention tips like frequent hand washing, wearing a mask, and staying home when sick to slow the spread of germs.”

Young children are most vulnerable to severe complications from RSV and the flu, especially if they have underlying medical conditions or were born prematurely, according to CDPH.

Californians are being told to follow these five tips to protect themselves and others from severe illness and hospitalization:

  1. Get Vaccinated, Boosted, and Treated if You Test Positive 
    Flu and COVID-19 vaccines continue to be your best defense to limit severe illness and death – and you can get both at the same time. If you test positive for COVID-19, contact your doctor or a test-to-treat site immediately to seek treatment. Treatments for flu and COVID-19 work best when started soon after symptoms begin.
  2. Stay Home if You’re Sick! 
    It’s crucial to stay home if you are feeling ill. Avoid close contact with others to protect them, and take the time you need to heal. This is especially important for respiratory viruses like the flu, RSV, and COVID-19, which can lead to more severe illness.
  3. Wear a Mask 
    There is no vaccine for RSV, so wearing a mask can significantly slow the spread and protect babies and young children who do not yet have immunity and are too young to wear a mask themselves. Wearing a mask in indoor public places is a good way to limit the spread of germs.
  4. Wash Your Hands 
    Frequent handwashing, with soap and warm water – for at least 20 seconds, is an easy and very effective way to prevent getting sick and spreading germs.
  5. Cover Your Cough or Sneeze 
    Remember to cough or sneeze into your elbow, your arm, or a disposable tissue to help prevent the spread of winter viruses. Just make sure to wash your hands or sanitize and dispose of your tissue after. 

CDPH says the 2022–2023 RSV season began earlier than usual, with activity rapidly increasing throughout October. Usually, activity rises in December and peaks in February.