The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today confirmed the first influenza-associated pediatric death this year in the state. The child was under the age of 10 and lived in Essex County. The child\u2019s flu was confirmed by clinical test and symptoms. Last flu season, there were two confirmed pediatric flu-related deaths in Massachusetts. \u00a0As of Feb. 3, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported a total of 63 influenza-associated pediatric deaths this flu season nationwide.\n\nDPH continues to urge people who have not received a flu shot to get vaccinated. People who think they may have the flu should call their healthcare provider for advice and possible treatment.\n\n``This is a tragic reminder of how serious the flu can be for some people,\u2019\u2019 said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH.\u00a0 \u201cEvery flu season is different, but every flu season is bad.\u00a0 This one arrived early and continues to spread, leading many people throughout the Commonwealth to get sick.\u2019\u2019\n\nDPH estimates between 250 and 1,100 Massachusetts residents die annually from complications of influenza.\u00a0 Although the majority of cases of influenza-like illness are not reported, so far there have been more than 8,100 laboratory-confirmed cases in the state this flu season.\u00a0\u00a0 \n\nThe most common symptoms of flu are fever, cough, and sore throat.\u00a0 Symptoms can also include body aches, headache, chills, runny nose, and feeling very tired.\u00a0 Some people, especially young children, may also have diarrhea and vomiting.\u00a0 Symptoms last from a few days to up to a week or more.\n\nTo stop flu from spreading, DPH recommends that people:\n\nTalk to their healthcare provider (call first) if they think they have the flu, especially if they have health concerns that make them more likely to develop severe illness when sick with the flu. The doctor may prescribe antiviral medications, which work best when started early in the illness.\u00a0 If symptoms do not improve or worsen rapidly, they should seek medical attention immediately.\n\tGet the flu vaccine as soon as possible.\u00a0 Vaccine is still available, and there is likely to be flu activity for weeks to come.\n\tStay home when they are sick with fever and cough or a sore throat, if possible.\u00a0 People should stay at home until they have gone 24 hours without fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications.\n\tWash their hands thoroughly and regularly, or use hand sanitizer.\n\tCover their coughs and sneezes.\nThe flu virus is spread through droplets of saliva and mucus from the nose and mouth. If you are close enough to a person with the flu (3-to- 6 feet) when they cough or sneeze, you can breathe in the virus and get sick. The flu virus can also live for a short time on things you touch, such as doorknobs, phones, and toys. Adults with flu can spread the virus one day before symptoms appear to approximately one week after.\u00a0 Children can spread the flu even longer after they get sick. \n\nFor more information about influenza, visit www.mass.gov/flu. Detailed weekly flu surveillance reports and other related flu articles are posted on the Mass Public Health Blog. DPH\u2019s latest video blog on this year\u2019s flu season is posted here. For questions, call your local board of health, your healthcare provider, or DPH at 617-983-6800.