As more children die from the flu this year, parents should be a - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

As more children die from the flu this year, parents should be aware

(Source: Melanie Posey/WBRC) (Source: Melanie Posey/WBRC)
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53 children across the U.S. have died from the flu so far this season -- including two here in Alabama.

The latest is 12-year-old Aaron Masterson of Huntsville.

The numbers are higher than seen in recent years.

And that understandably, has some parents upset.

Dr. Scott James, an infectious diseases doctor at Children's of Alabama says parents shouldn't be afraid, but they should be aware.

He says one reason for the high numbers may be because there is more flu out in the community this year.

Still, he says that for most healthy children, the flu will be a mild illness.

However, there are some high risk categories parents should be aware of.

That includes those who are under the age of five, and especially under the age of two.

Also those with underlying or chronic health conditions are at greater risk of developing complications.

“I think it's just a good reminder that flu is a serious illness that has potential side effects that we should be aware of and complications that can get very serious very fast,” says James.

“So if you see your child getting worse--breathing rapidly, struggling for breath, not taking in enough fluids so they seem like they're getting dehydrated--you should be aware these kinds of complications are possible and seek medical care."

Dr. James strongly recommends any child six months and older get a flu shot and he says it's not too late.

When asked if most of the patients he sees have gotten the vaccine, he says he's finding more and more parents who aren't getting their children vaccinated due to safety concerns...many of which, he and others say, are unfounded.

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