A CHILD has died and another 18 have been admitted to the Children’s Hospital at Westmead for the flu.
It is the first death this year from influenza A, an acute respiratory illness caused by a virus.
The child was under the age of five and was unvaccinated. Health authorities are respecting the family’s privacy and will not be releasing any further details surrounding the death.
Remaining hospitalisations at the western Sydney hospital ranged in age from one month to seven-year-old.
The devastating news has NSW Health again urging parents to vaccinate their children.
Chief health officer Kerry Chant said 15 of the children were eligible for the free flu vaccine, which is given in two doses for first-time flu vaccinations.
“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.
Almost all of the 256 confirmed flu cases last week, contracted influenza A, which caused the 2009 pandemic where more than 650 people died from complications associated with the flu.
And, 74 of those 256 cases were from the Western Sydney Local Health District, the highest across the entire state by 36.
After last year’s 103,000 reported influenza cases, the virus hit its peak in August with 48,600 reported illnesses across all strains.
Confirmed cases are people that present at medical centres or hospitals, and represent only a portion of illness in the community. Experts believe the flu season has started later than usual this year.