Parents are being urged to vaccinate their young children against the flu after one child died and almost 20 others were hospitalised with serious complications.
The child, who was under the age of five, had not been vaccinated against the powerful influenza A strain N1H1 and died after being admitted to the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney.
Nineteen children – aged one month to seven years – have been treated at the hospital for influenza since April, The Daily Telegraph reported.
Parents are being urged to vaccinate their young children against the flu after one child died
The influenza A strain N1-H1 fuelled the pandemic flu season in 2009 and affects young children and pregnant women the hardest.
Health authorities are urging parents to have their children vaccinated now, despite the season’s peak period not expected to hit for another two months.
The official start to the season is expected in two weeks which is the exact amount of time it takes for the vaccination to come into effect.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said only 20 per cent of eligible children have had the free vaccine so far.
‘People need to take opportunity now before the season starts,’ Dr Chant said.
This is the first year that NSW children aged from six months to under five years of age will be offered free influenza shots.
Heath authorities are urging parents to have their young children vaccinated after almost 20 children were admitted to Westmead Hospital (pictured) in Sydney
Children who have never had a flu vaccination will need two doses, one month apart.
When announcing the free jab policy, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the state had been hit hard last year.
‘NSW, like the rest of the country, was subjected to a horror flu season last year. The program will target more than 400,000 children and ensure better protection for them and the wider community,’ Ms Berejiklian said in a statement at the time.
‘NSW is now ensuring every child under five has the opportunity to be better protected this winter.’
The flu jab is free for NSW children aged from six months to under five years
Out of the 19 children emitted to the hospital, 15 of them had been eligible for the free vaccine.
Dr Chant said the virus had been more prominent in Western Sydney due to the large population of children living in the area.
Influenza can cause muscle aches, pneumonia and even encephalitis — inflammation of the brain.
There has been a spike of cases over the last month with 256 cases of the virus recorded in the week ending July 8th, up 78 cases from the previous week.