Dr Margie shares a story of a little girl that nearly died after suffering with the flu virus.

Dr Margie is a Paediatrician, mum and Royal Children’s Hospital kids health blogger. She shares her story in a video from the The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne…

Two years ago I was treating a little girl who came into the ED with a five day history of a cough and fever, says Dr Margie.

She was slurring her words and quite confused. She needed to be admitted to the ICU.

It was confronting for me to see her like that. A swab confirmed she had Influenza A.

She was in hospital for weeks learning to sit up again, learning to eat, draw, speak and use the right side of her body.

Up to ten per cent of children admitted with the flu will develop neurological complications.

Half of all children who die from the flu in hospital were previously healthy.

Influenza is the most common vaccine-preventable disease that children are admitted to hospital with under the age of five and causes up to 1500 hospitalisations a year in children under five.”

The Flu Can Be Very Serious

Children can die from the neurological and other complications related to flu. A past study looking at all admissions to paediatric intensive care units in Australia and New Zealand over a 17-year period (1997-2013) for kids up to 16 years old found that half of the children who died with flu-related admissions were previously healthy kids. This is a very important reminder about how serious flu can be.

Kids are also more likely to catch the flu compared to adults (20-30% of kids compared to 10-30% of adults) and kids contribute greatly to the spreading of the disease in the community.

The flu vaccine is recommended for all children six months of age and older.

It is funded on the National Immunisation Program for all children at higher risk of complications (see list below). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged between six months and five years and 15 years and over are also funded to receive free seasonal influenza vaccine.

It is critical that children at particular risk of severe complications from influenza are vaccinated, including those with:
•Heart conditions
•Severe asthma or other lung conditions
•Chronic neurological conditions
•Weakened immune systems due to drugs or diseases
•Down syndrome
•Other chronic conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes, obesity

Please speak to your doctor if you are not sure if your child is at higher risk for getting the flu.

The vaccine is also strongly recommended for pregnant women at any time in the pregnancy and for carers of children who are at higher risk of catching the flu, to avoid them passing on the disease.

Share your comments below

Image via Shutterstock

  • The flu isn’t something minor so I don’t understand why a lot of people are against the flu vaccine. Seems completely insane to me.


  • Scary. Thanks for posting this – it is food for thought.


  • It’s scary stuff. Flu shot should be free to everyone.. I know I’m put it off over some winters due to affordability. Has anyone else found themselves in that situation?

    • Yes, me too. My youngest is 4yrs old and has Down syndrome. She’s the only one in our family who gets it and this is the last year I can get it for free for her.


  • I think we tend to down play flu as when someone gets a cold they straight away say they have “the flu”….a cold is simply a cold and totally different from the flu… influenza.


  • definitely something to consider with children when they are old enough.


  • Irrelevant quite silly. I didn’t know children could be vaccinated for the flu. I have to have the flu injection as any colds I get now turn into asthma. I will be booking my daughter in too


  • It is very scary to think that the flu can be so damaging.


  • I always knew the flu was deadly for the very young and very old, it’s still shocking to read of the effects on this little girl. My grandson us only 3 weeks old and I’m worrying how at risk he is of getting sick before he’s old enough to feel vaccinated


  • I wonder how high the child’s temperature was, and how long it had been raised for. I realise a slightly raised temperature can suddenly spike very quickly as it has happened to me. On one occasion I went to my GP who said my temperature was slightly above average. Within 15 minutes I felt as though I was immersed in very hot water and perspiring profusely. Panadol and bed!! A neighbour collected my medication from the Pharmacy for me.


  • Terrible! I never got the flu vaccine, my daughter neither. The higher risk is for kids under 5. Yes, we always think that we are healthy people, but apparently that’s not enough.


  • It is so important to take every infection seriously and treat it well and quickly.


  • We have scheduled a family trip to the GP to get our vaccinations.


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