The flu has already taken the lives of 20 children this year, as this outbreak of the virus has been the deadliest since the government began tracking it since 2004.
The deaths aren’t just of newborns and those most susceptible to the flu, either, as a 6-year-old girl in Maine, a 15-year-old high school student in Michigan, as well as a 6-foot-tall high school senior from Texas.
The high school senior, Max Schwolert, grew sick while visiting his grandparents in Wisconsin during his winter vacation.
“He was kind of a gentle giant,” said Phil Schwolert, Max’s uncle, who says his nephew’s death had a huge impact on his howntown of Flower Mound.
Health officials did not track pediatric flu deaths until nine years ago, after the 2003-04 season, when the primary flu germ was the same as the one causing the epidemic this year.
The government received reports 153 flu-related deaths in children across 40 states during that time, with most of the cases occurring in the beginning of January.
The report, however, was scattershot, with the degree of relation to the deaths varying significantly.
In October 2004, the government began to require all states to report pediatric flu-related deaths.
The 2004 flu season also changed who received flu shots, as it used to only be recommended for children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years, as well as elderly people.
This season, approximately 130 million people have received flu shots.
James Gilbert | Elite.