RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Virginia child between the ages of five and 12 has died “from complications associated with influenza,” the state’s health department announced Wednesday.

According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), it’s the state’s first reported influenza-related child death of the 2022-23 flu season. Details about the child who died were not shared other than that they lived in Virginia’s southwestern region.

“We offer our deepest condolences to the family of this child,” State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene said in a statement.

With concerns over early and very high flu activity in Virginia, Dr. Greene advised that people get the vaccine to protect themselves.

“Flu can be a very dangerous illness. With Virginia and many other states experiencing high or very high levels of flu activity, I urge everyone who is eligible to receive the flu vaccine to do so as soon as possible, consulting your physician as needed,” he said Wednesday. “While we can never stop all cases of flu, the best way to reduce your risk is to get the vaccine, which is available to anyone over 6 months of age.”

According to VDH, Virginia’s influenza-like illness activity level was “very high” during the week ending Nov. 19. For that same week, state data also shows that Virginia reported that 8% of emergency department and urgent care center visits were for influenza-life illnesses.

VDH recommended the following measures to help prevent the flu:

  • Everyone 6 months & older should receive a yearly flu vaccine
  • Practice good preventive 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