An unidentified five-year-old kindergartener on Long Island has died from complications of the flu, school and health officials confirmed Tuesday.
Most parents who waited at dismissal time outside East Rockaway's Centre Avenue Elementary School didn't want to discuss the death of the young girl.
"How do you explain this to a five-year-old?" said Krystal Tardo, the mom of one kindergarten student.
"It's just one of the most heartbreaking things in the world."
The exact strain of influenza has yet to be confirmed, Nassau County's health commissioner, but it appears to be influenza "B," which has been common this season, health officials said.
Health officials wouldn't say if the girl had received a flu shot prior to her illness.
"What kind of world is it when you lose a five year old just like that?" asked parent Louis Tardo.
Forty-one children nationwide have died from the flu or its complications since last fall, federal health officials said.
"This is a tragic case that reminds us influenza can kill," said Health Commissioner Maria Toroella Carney.
The Centre Avenue school has been sanitized, but school officials said there is no evidence the children there are at any greater risk.
A crisis team of psychologists, social workers and others has offered support to students and staff, according to a statement from the East Rockaway school district.
The lesson from this tragedy, county health officials said, is that children and adults need to be vaccinated against the flu.
"Influenza is everywhere and we are entering the peak season," said health commissioner Toroella Carney. The season could run through May, she added.
"I took my daughter for a flu shot Monday," said Krystal Tardo. "It's something all parents should do for their kids."