MANATEE — The swine flu death of a 10-month-old Sarasota County girl should serve as a “wake-up call” to parents who might be worried about the safety of the flu vaccine, according to a local epidemiologist.
Children younger than age 5 are especially at risk for complications from the H1N1, or swine flu, virus, health officials say.
“Sounds like a no-brainer to me,” Manatee County Health Department epidemiologist Ron Cox said. “I would encourage parents to get the vaccine. All the info we’re getting from the CDC and Tallahassee tells us there haven’t been any adverse effects. There are all good indications the vaccine is safe.”
The Sarasota County Health Department announced the girl’s death Wednesday.
The department refused to provide more details about the girl’s identity or whether she might have had other medical problems.
“While the majority of people who get the flu will fully recover, every death is tragic, especially in an infant, and this is a sobering reminder that influenza is a serious disease and it can be fatal. Our condolences go out to the family,” said Dr. William Heymann, medical executive director for the Sarasota health department.
It is the county’s fourth swine flu death, the first since a 27-year-old man died Sept. 2.
Manatee County has one confirmed death, a 27-year-old woman who had an underlying medical condition. That death was reported Sept. 25.
Vaccinations will be available in Manatee and Sarasota counties by early next week.
Cox said he has received no calls from local parents worried about the safety of the vaccine. He has, though, fielded several calls from parents seeking information about where and when the vaccines will be available.
In children, emergency warning signs that need immediate medical attention include fast breathing or trouble breathing, bluish or gray skin color, not drinking enough fluids, severe or persistent vomiting, not waking up or not interacting, being so irritable that the child does not want to be held and flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough.