Pediatricians say parents need to take this year’s flu very seriously after it killed several teenagers and older children.

CBS New York reports that, so far, parents heeded their doctors’ warnings.

Pediatrician Dr. Jeffrey Bienstock told reporters:

“I think it takes one death for everybody to realize how severe influenza can be.”

That’s what killed 10-year-old Nico Mallozzi, who became the state’s first child to die from the flu. After Mallozzi’s passing, Michigan believes that 12-year-old Michael Messenger died from the flu 2 days after throwing up at dinner.  Also, an Alabama third grader recently died as well as a 13-year-old Kentucky student.

Normally, the majority of young deaths are that of children under the age of 5.   It’s unusual when a healthy older child or teenager dies.

With four deaths of healthy youths reported nearly back to back, parents feel the extra need to be vigilant. A cough or slight fever could lead to deadly consequences.

That’s because the H3N2 strain currently infecting individuals is the most aggressive of the four seasonal flu strains.

That’s why pediatricians strongly recommend that parents vaccinate their children.  As for the case with Dr. Bienstock, 11 of the 13 confirmed cases of the flu to come to his office did not receive a flu shot.

But, some parents who don’t believe in vaccines and choose not to inoculate their children.  However, if a child’s fever doesn’t break in 24 hours, they should go to the doctor immediately.

Nationwide, about 20 children died from the flu so far this year.  However, the flu is weeks away from peak season.  Typically, it hits sometime in February and lasts through March.

So, that’s why pediatricians are standing by.  If they feel nervous, so should you.  And if your child comes down with influenza, doctors say watch the fever, give them plenty of fluids, and make sure they rest!

If their symptoms don’t subside after 24 hours, contact your doctor.  It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the flu.

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