The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services has confirmed that the death Westfield resident Mark Hollaway, 14, is flu-related.
The Health Department issued the following message Friday afternoon:
The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services has confirmed that the January 16th passing of a Westfield teen is influenza related. The Town mourns this heartbreaking loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to the teen’s family.
While a severe case of the flu can be life-threatening, please be assured that this was an isolated case. The Westfield Board of Health, in conjunction with the School District’s nursing staff and Superintendent of Schools, is carefully monitoring school attendance for any signs of increased absenteeism due to the flu. At this time, there is no increase in absenteeism that would suggest a high flu activity in the schools. Please be assured that the schools are taking appropriate preventative measures such as washing surfaces with special soap, providing hand sanitizers throughout the school facilities, and teaching the students to wash their hands frequently, sneeze and cough into a tissue or sleeve, and not to share food or drinks.
The New Jersey Department of Health continues to report high flu activity throughout New Jersey, including Union County. With flu season being only half over, the best tool you have to protect yourself and your family is to receive an influenza vaccination. While the Westfield Regional Health Department has exhausted its supply of flu vaccine, you can use the following websites to locate availability of flu shots: Find a Flu Shot Locator, and www.minuteclinic.com.
If you or your child develops flu-like symptoms, it is important to contact your doctor as soon as possible for guidance. There are medications to treat infection with the flu. These medications work best when started within 48 hours of symptoms.
In addition to your physician’s guidance, if you or your child have flu-like symptoms, the Westfield Regional Health Department recommends the following:
- Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medication.
- Stay away from others, especially the very young and seniors, to avoid making others sick.
- Take any medications your doctor prescribes.
For more information about the flu, visit www.cdc.gov/flu/.
Hollaway's death is the third pediatric flu-related fatality in the state this season. Friends of the Westfield High School freshman set up a Facebook page, RIP Mark Hollaway, in his memory.