A Worcester County teenager has died of the flu in the state's first fatal pediatric case this season, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, DPH officials said the teen had tested positive for influenza B.
"I feel immense sorrow for the family of this child. This is a tragic reminder of how serious the flu can be for both children and adults,’’ Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said in the statement.
January and February are "typically the height of flu season," Bharel said, adding that "it's not too late to get a flu shot.” DPH officials also noted that there is no shortage of the vaccine this year.
So far this season, DPH said up to 3,000 Massachusetts residents have been hospitalized with the flu, with an estimated 15,000-20,000 visits to the emergency room also linked to the illness.
Last season, four Massachusetts residents under age 18 died after contracting the flu, the statement said.
Nationwide, the statement said, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report there have been at least 39 pediatric flu deaths this season.