EAST ROCKAWAY - This morning, parents are facing the reality that the flu can be deadly after a 5-year-old East Rockaway student died from flu complications.

Officials say the girl was a kindergarten student at the Centre Avenue Elementary School in East Rockaway.

Nassau officials are not identifying the child but say she was hospitalized with the flu but died Friday from encephalitis. Encephalitis is a non-contagious inflammation of the brain.

Pediatricians stress the importance of a flu shot. The flu is contagious, but if people are protected with the vaccine and they follow good hygiene procedures the risk is no greater than the general public.

Parents were told about the death over the break. The district assured parents the school was sanitized before students returned to class yesterday.