(THE TENNESSEAN) Savannah Hyden, an 11-year-old girl from Hendersonville, has died from complications from the flu, according to family and hospital reports. She is the second child in Tennessee to die from the flu this season.
Savannah died at 5:04 p.m. Wednesday at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, according to a hospital spokesperson. Aaron Hyden of Cleveland, the girl's uncle, said she died of complications from the flu. She passed away after the Tennessee Department of Health on Wednesday reported another death of someone under the age of 18 from flu complications. Due to privacy concerns, the state agency does not report locations.
Aaron Hyden described his niece as as a "ray of sunshine," a healthy child he had last seen at his son's birthday party a couple of months ago.
"Everywhere she went she was smiling," he said. "She wondered what heaven looked like. Now, she knows. Little kids hear about Jesus and Heaven and Bible stories and the streets of gold. They want to know what it really looks like. She didn't say that to me. She told her mom and dad that."
Family and friends are in the process of setting up a bank account to help the family with medical costs and funeral arrangements. The Tennessean will share more details as they become available.
The predominant virus in circulation this year is H1N1, which first emerged in 2009. In Tennessee, 15 deaths among children younger than 18 occurred during the 2009-10 season, which compares with two or three deaths during a typical flu season, said Dr. Kelly Moore, director of immunizations for the Tennessee Department of Health.
"We didn't have the benefit of a vaccine back in 2009," Moore said. "We have kept this particular strain in our vaccine ever since 2009. This season's vaccine contains it."
Health officials are urging Tennesseans to get flu vaccinations.