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Unvaccinated child from Florida becomes first death of the flu season

Last Updated Oct 15, 2018 7:41 PM EDT

A child in Florida has become the first person to die of the flu this season, according to state health officials. State epidemiologists say the child had not been vaccinated and was otherwise healthy before getting sick with the flu.

The child, who tested positive for influenza B, died sometime during the week of Sept. 30, although privacy concerns prevent officials from saying exactly where, CBS affiliate WTSP-TV reports.

Last flu season, 183 children in the U.S. died from flu or flu-related causes. That's the most since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began keeping these records in 2004. Overall, an estimated 80,000 Americans died from flu last season.

CBS News medical contributor Dr. Tara Narula says this latest news should be a wake-up call to parents to get their children vaccinated.

"What this is a strong clear message to parents about the importance of vaccination," she told "CBS This Morning." "This vaccine is safe. It is the most effective tool we have. And we know of the pediatric deaths last year, 80 percent were in kids who were unvaccinated."

A new survey suggests that many children may not be getting the potentially life-saving flu shot because of their parents' misconceptions about the safety and importance of vaccines.

The survey by Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital found:

  • More than half of parents think that their child can get the flu from the flu shot.
  • 30 percent of parents feel flu vaccines are a conspiracy.
  • 28 percent of parents believe flu vaccines can cause autism.

"None of these things are true. It's important that we deal with the science and the facts," Narula said.

The CDC recommends everyone age 6 months and older get vaccinated against the flu every year.

"Officials have said it's like wearing a seat belt," Narula said. "This is really a no-brainer for parents."