Mother of Virginia teen who died from the flu: ‘She was the light of our family’

Virginia News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Northern Virginia teen was confirmed as the state’s first pediatric flu death of the season. In some local areas, schools have had to shut down because of suspected flu cases.

The death of the teen was announced as Virginia is in its 10th week of widespread flu activity. There have been at least 733 pneumonia and flu-related deaths.

While state health officials did not release the teen’s name, Colette Giovanniello in Leesburg says it was her 16-year-old daughter Katie. The teen was diagnosed with influenza B on Feb. 2, dying just days later. Giovanniello said her daughter got a flu shot.

“It’s real hard cause it’s so sudden,” Giovanniello said. “We don’t really know how we’re gonna go on without Katie because she was the light of our family.”

Giovanniello, still grieving from her sudden loss, said she’s asking for an autopsy so she can get some answers.

“Know something wasn’t right but I don’t know what it was,” she explained. “I want to know what happened in her body.”

Respiratory Disease Coordinator at Virginia Department of Health Em Stephens told 8News that flu cases are increasing but not at an alarming level for mid-February.

“We do expect to see the flu continue to circulate for the next few weeks if not months,” Stephens said. “Well below where we were in 2017, 2018 and the pandemic in 2009.”

The health department says the flu, on average, claims the lives of three children in Virginia each year. A CDC report on the effectiveness of this year’s flu vaccine is expected in the next few weeks.

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