HEALTH

First flu-related pediatric death of season in Va.

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FAIRFAX, Va. (WJLA) - According to the Virginia Department of Health, the first flu-related pediatric death has occurred for the 2013-2014 flu season in Virginia.

The child from Northern Virginia was reportedly preschool age (0-4 years).

In Fairfax, Charles Hansbrough made sure his children got their flu shots several months ago, but he says the news of the death is absolutely heartbreaking.

"It's pretty sad and real...can't imagine something like that," he says.

The news comes as the Centers for Disease Control announces that Virginia is one of more than two dozen states where the flu is widespread.

Still, Arlington County’s Health Director says parent need not be alarmed:

"We don't have evidence that it's unusually putting children at risk, but flu is something that can always put children and adults at risk," explains Dr. Reuben Verghese. "While there's the death, let's focus on what parents can do -- they can still get their kids flu shots."

There seems to be plenty of the vaccine on hand this year, but workers at this Safeway pharmacy have seen fewer and fewer people asking for it.

"We haven't seen as much foot traffic as we did this time last year," says pharmacist Ola Davies. "I think it comes from people underestimating the severity of the flu. "

For those children who haven't yet gotten the flu shot, there are still things you can do to help keep them safe:

"Keep them home if they're sick, talk to a pediatrician; there are anti-viral medications that can help reduce the severity of the symptoms," says Dr. Verghese.

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