According to the latest numbers released by the CDC, the flu is on the rise in much of the country and the number of children who have died because of the flu has hit double digits.
Allison Eagle Speaker, 6-years-old, loved her big brother Matt and little sister Daisy and Native American dancing.
Crystal White Shield, Allison’s Mother, tells us, “She was a beautiful little girl. We were blessed with her life and we miss her dearly.”
Allison, who lived in Montana, died on December 1st from the flu.
New numbers out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Friday show the situation is getting worse. 19 states are showing high levels of flu activity compared with nine states last week and 13 children have died from the flu this season.
Children are particularly vulnerable to H1N1, this year’s predominant flu strain.
Allison’s mother wants other parents to be watchful when their children have the flu. Allison died less than 48 hours of first becoming ill.
“This illness hit her really hard and really fast. For it to just take her life, nothing prepares you for how fast it moves.”
While Allison had mild asthma, about 1/2 of children who die from the flu are otherwise healthy according to the CDC. And, 80% of the children who died last year had not received a flu shot.
With months of flu season still to go, it’s not too late for children or adults to get vaccinated.
The local number of flu illnesses nearly doubled the week of Christmas with 50 cases and one death reported, flu season is taking its toll on the area. Health professionals say that getting the vaccine is the best way to prevent the virus.
If caught early, there are antiviral medications that can help with symptoms but cannot cure the disease.
Director of Nursing for the Erie County Department of Health, Charlotte Berringer, says, “To try and prevent it in the first place, though, other than the vaccine, it’s basically, ‘do what you can do to keep your immune system healthy.'”
The flu is expected to escalate over the next month.
If you are uninsured, call the Health Department at 814-451-6700 to get the vaccine.