RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Virginia child under the age of five has died from complications associated with influenza, the commonwealth’s first pediatric flu death of the 2021-22 season, according to the state’s health department.

The child was from Virginia’s Central region, the department said in a release Wednesday. On average, Virginia reports three flu-related child deaths each year.

“This tragic death reminds us that flu can be a very serious disease, especially in the very young, the elderly, and those with chronic medical problems,” State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene said in a statement.

According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the commonwealth had “low to moderate” activity during the 2021-22 flu season compared to previous seasons. The VDH said it has investigated 23 flu outbreaks during the season through July and had “6,321 pneumonia, influenza and/or COVID-19 associated deaths.”

Virginia sees a peak in flu activity between December and February, although it can stay high into the spring and VDH reported widespread activity in June, the department said Wednesday.

VDH shared recommendations to prevent the flu:

  • Get vaccinated every year
  • Practice good public 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
  • Take antivirals as prescribed by your physician if you do become sick with the flu

Estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show between 5,000 to 14,000 influenza-related deaths this flu season.

“While we can never stop all cases of flu, the best way to reduce your risk, for people over 6 months of age, is to receive the flu vaccine, an updated version of which should come available in the next 60 days,” Greene added.