The Virginia Department of Health reported the state's first flu-related pediatric death for the 2019-20 flu season.
A teenager between 13-17 from Virginia's northern region died from complications associated with the flu. On average, three flu-related pediatric deaths are reported each year in Virginia.
"We offer our condolences and deepest sympathies to this child's family," said State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver. "Sadly, this is a tragic reminder that flu can be a serious illness, and we encourage everyone to take precautions to protect themselves and others."
Health officials said that the flu has been widespread in Virginia since December 2019. Virginia's Department of Health has investigated a total of 61 flu outbreaks during the 2019-20 flu season through Feb. 1, and received reports of 773 pneumonia and flu-related deaths.
VDH says that certain groups — including children younger than 5, pregnant women, people aged 65 and older, and those with suppressed immune systems or chronic medical conditions — are at highers risk for serious illness from flu.
"Flu vaccination is the most effective protection against flu," Oliver said. "Even at this time of year, if you haven't had the flu shot, you should make an appointment and get it."
Flu activity in Virginia typically peaks between December and February, but can remain elevated into the spring.