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BOSTON (CBS) – A child under the age of six who had influenza has died. The Boston resident, whose identity was not released, passed away earlier this week.
Officials say the child was not in the hospital at the time.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Carl Stevens reports
Officials have not determined the cause of death. They are still looking into whether the child may have had any preexisting conditions or whether something else may have contributed.
A Boston public health official called the child’s death a tragedy, and said the city’s hearts go out to the family.
That official also emphasized the importance of vaccinations.
The child’s death brings the total number of flu-related deaths in the city to six with officials announcing the death of another resident over the age of 65. Earlier this week, Boston declared a public health emergency and this weekend will operate 22 free flu vaccine clinics after purchasing thousands of extra doses to support the effort.
East Boston Community Health Center is among those receiving 400 additional doses to add to the 3,000 already on hand. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mari Bentley says they are prepared for the expected onslaught of people seeking the virus, although they’ve been giving the vaccine to patients since October.
She says the numbers underscore the need for the clinics. In December 2011, the pediatric emergency room had 2,000 visits while in December 2012 that number rose to 3,000, a fifty percent increase. “I think it’s important for the city to be mobilizing,” said Dr. Bentley.
Flu shots are in short supply for children in Massachusetts.
Officials with the Department of Public Health tell WBZ-TV they’ve had to secure 8,000 doses of children’s vaccine from neighboring states because of the shortage in the state. They’re hoping to get a couple thousand more doses from the federal government to help those who can’t afford to pay for a shot.
WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano contributed to this report.