Cochise County child dies from flu; cases on the rise

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PHOENIX -- A Cochise County child is Arizona's first pediatric death from the flu this season.

There have been about 1,100 confirmed cases of the flu reported since the season began on Sept. 26. Nearly one-third of those flu cases were reported just last week.

According to state health officials, Arizona's flu season usually peaks in February or March.

Unlike past years, there is plenty of the flu vaccine available this season. Because of that, health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are recommending that everyone 6 months or older be vaccinated.

This season's vaccine protects against an influenza A H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus and the 2009 H1N1 virus that caused so much illness last season. It takes about two weeks for immunity to build up.

Health officials say it's especially important for people who are at high risk for complications from the flu to get a shot. That includes young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.

Because children younger than 6 months cannot be vaccinated even though they are quite susceptible to respiratory illnesses, parents and caregivers should be sure to get the shot.

To locate a flu shot clinic in Arizona, call 602-324-2814 in the Phoenix Metro area or 1-877-764-2670 statewide.

CDC experts also remind people that there are simple things they can to do prevent the spread of germs. The easiest and most effective precautions include covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and washing your hands often with soap and water. You should also avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

Most important, if you are sick with a flu-like illness, stay home and limit your contact with others as much as possible.