Updated 13 July 2018
By Melissa Grant
There are renewed pleas for parents to vaccinate their kids against the flu, with NSW confirming one child has died and another 18 children were recently admitted to a Sydney hospital.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said there were 19 children admitted to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead between 3 April to 8 July, 17 of whom contracted influenza A (H1N1).
“We know that 15 of the children were eligible for the free flu vaccine but only two of them had been fully vaccinated against flu,” Dr Chant said.
“This is an important reminder to parents who have not yet vaccinated their children that influenza can be life-threatening and it’s not too late to vaccinate.”
“Sadly, we have received the first report this year a child has died from influenza A.”
The age of the child who died is unknown.
Dr Chant said almost all of NSW’s 256 confirmed flu cases contracted influenza A (H1N1), which caused the 2009 pandemic.
The flu shot is free for Victorian children between six months and five years, an age group particularly vulnerable to the virus.
Australian Medical Association vice president Dr Tony Bartone said the vaccination provided the best protection against the dreaded flu.
“We had a horror season last year it was the worst since 2009,” he said.
“Influenza is a deadly condition. It’s extremely potent and it’s extremely risky towards someone’s health and wellbeing.”
Dr Bartone said parents weighing up whether to get their child vaccinated needed to know it was the best form of protection against influenza.
He said “99 per cent of the game” was having the flu jab and everything else – such as keeping healthy and safe hygiene practices – simply minimised the impact of an outbreak.
“It (the flu shot) is not 100 per cent effective, but is significantly effective in the younger members of the population,” Dr Bartone said.
“Who wants to see their little bub in hospital?”
Last year’s flu season was the worst since 2009, with almost 1100 deaths and hundreds of thousands of people falling ill across Australia.
While the elderly is the most severely affected age group impacted by the flu, young children are at high risk of encountering serious issues if hospitalised.
Dr Bartone said while it was impossible to prevent the flu, the vaccination was the best way to prevent another horror outbreak.
“If we immunise everybody we reduce the amount of influenza in the community and therefore its spread,” he said.