Department of Public Health Confirms Death of Haverhill Girl Is State’s First ‘Flu-Related Pediatric Death’

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said Tuesday that the death of a female Golden Hill student is the state’s first flu-related pediatric death this year.

The six-year-old student, whose name WHAV is withholding at the family’s request, passed away on Monday. Haverhill’s Community Health Coordinator Mary Connolly confirmed to WHAV that the child had tested positive for influenza A, noting that official autopsy results are pending.

Golden Hill elementary has since been sanitized, as has the bus the child rode in, Connolly said. “The school is (taking) the right measures to protect students,” the city’s nurse told WHAV.

State officials said a total of 63 influenza-associated pediatric deaths had been reported nationwide as of Feb. 3.

“This is a tragic reminder of how serious the flu can be for some people,” Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said in a statement. “Every flu season is different, but every flu season is bad. This one arrived early and continues to spread, leading many people throughout the Commonwealth to get sick.”

The most common flu symptoms include fever, cough and sore throat. Some people, including young children, may have diarrhea and vomiting.

Haverhill is offering free flu shots to city residents at the Citizen’s Center, 10 Welcome St. Appointments are required and may be made by calling Connolly at 978-374-2390 x15.