RICHMOND, Va. (WJHL) – A child between the ages of 5 and 12 has died in Southwest Virginia due to complications from influenza, according to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).

The death marks the first flu-related pediatric death of the 2022-23 flu season, the VDH reports.

Aside from the child’s age range and home region, health officials did not disclose any further details. The VDH stated no additional information would be released in order to protect the family’s privacy.

“We offer our deepest condolences to the family of this child,” said State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene said in a VDH news release. “Flu can be a very dangerous illness. With Virginia and many other states experiencing high or very high levels of flu activity, I urge everyone who is eligible to receive the flu vaccine to do so as soon as possible, consulting your physician as needed. While we can never stop all cases of flu, the best way to reduce your risk is to get the vaccine, which is available to anyone over 6 months of age.”

The VDH recommends taking the following steps to prevent contracting the flu:

  1. Everyone 6 months & older should receive a yearly flu vaccine;
  2. Practice good preventive health with hand hygiene (washing your hands regularly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer), respiratory etiquette (coughing and sneezing into a tissue or the inside of your elbow rather than your open hand), and staying home when you feel sick; and
  3. Take antivirals as prescribed by your physician if you do become sick with the flu.

In the news release, the VDH reported that the Commonwealth is seeing “early and very high flu activity during the current 2022-23 flu season compared to previous flu seasons.”

For more information, read the full VDH announcement.