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One child died and another 18 were admitted to the Westmead Children's Hospital for the flu.

It is the first death this year of influenza A, an acute respiratory disease caused by a virus.

The child was under five years old and not vaccinated. The health authorities respect the privacy of the family and will not publish any further details about the death.

The remaining hospital stays at the Western Sydney Hospital ranged from one month to seven years.

The devastating news is that NSW Health again urges parents to vaccinate their children.

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said 15 of the children are eligible for the free flu vaccine, which is given in two doses for the first flu shot.

"We know that 15 of the children were eligible for the free flu vaccine, but only two of them were fully vaccinated against the flu," said Drs. Chant.

media_kameraThe influenza virus close up.
media_kameraNSW Health Board Kerry Chant.

Almost all of the 256 confirmed influenza cases last week fell ill with influenza A, which caused the 2009 pandemic, in which more than 650 people died from complications related to the flu.

And 74 of these 256 cases were from the Western Sydney Local Health District, the highest in the state by 36.

After the 103,000 reported cases of flu last year, the virus reached its peak in August with 48,600 reported diseases in all strains.

Confirmed cases are persons who are present in medical centers or hospitals and represent only part of the disease in the community. Experts believe the flu season started later this year than usual.

The state government has launched its free flu vaccine for children under the age of five this year and has been driving it forward with a nationwide campaign since January to avoid the high numbers this year.

It has worked nationwide with only 5052 reported cases so far.

The government spends $ 22.75 million on programs to help prevent chimneys this season, including $ 3.5 million for free flu vaccines for children up to five years and a prevention campaign over $ 1.75 million US dollar.

There are three types of influenza virus – A, B and C – A are more serious than the others and are the only species known to cause widespread outbreaks.

media_kameraThe Children's Hospital Westmead.
media_kameraNSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian announced in January that they would offer free flu vaccines for children up to the age of five. Picture: Glen Campbell

The virus is constantly changing with a new strain that comes out every winter. People who develop influenza typically get better within a week by resting, taking light painkillers, drinking plenty of fluids, eating light foods, but in some cases, the flu can be severe and cause serious complications such as pneumonia to lead.

People at risk include younger children, older people, pregnant women, natives and people with chronic health problems.

Dr. Chant said death is a timely reminder to parents who have not yet vaccinated their children.

"Influenza can be life-threatening and it's not too late to vaccinate," she said.

"Flu case numbers across the country are starting to rise and Influenza A, which affects mostly children and young adults, is the main burden circulating in the community."

Dr. Chant said there were plenty of supplies for minors to get vaccinated

"Just call your family doctor to see if he has them in stock, or give him time to order more vaccines," she said.

The flu vaccine is also free for those who are pregnant, indigenous, over the age of 65 or older, or suffering from medical conditions such as severe asthma, diabetes, and heart problems.

"Vaccination is the best protection against the flu, but you can also prevent it from spreading by coughing and sneezing in your elbows, brushing your hands regularly, and staying sick."



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