What should have been a night of sugarplum fairies dancing in their heads turned into a nightmare for an Iowa family.
On Christmas Eve, 4-year-old Jade DeLucia had to be flown to a hospital because of the flu, CNN first reported.
"She is lucky to be alive," one of her physicians, Dr. Theresa Czech, told CNN. "She's a little fighter. And I think she's super lucky."
Jade spent two weeks in the intensive care unit at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital battling Influenza B.
Influenza B, which often affects children and young adults more than older adults, AJC reporter Helena Oliviero wrote, has been the dominant strain so far. However, limited testing data is suggesting this year’s flu vaccine is a better match for Influenza A.
Jade had received no vaccination, however. Jade’s mother, Amanda Phillips, made sure her daughters got their flu shots in March 2019, but said she didn’t realize they weren’t good for a full year.
Phillips and her husband, Stephen DeLucia, learned Christmas Day the flu had affected Jade’s brain, CNN reported.
"They said she had significant brain damage. They said our child might not ever wake up, and if she did, she might not ever be the same," Phillips said.
Jade woke up on New Year’s Day and slowly began to improve. Less than a week later, though, Phillips noticed her daughter wasn’t looking at objects in front of her. An ophthalmologist said Jade’s eyes were fine. It was her brain that wasn’t working, Czech told the parents.
"(The flu) affected the part of her brain that perceives sight, and we don't know if she's going to get her vision back," Czech, Jade's neurologist, told CNN. "In about three to six months from now we'll know. Whatever recovery she has at six months, that's likely all she's going to get."
It’s not too late to get your flu shot.
The flu vaccine remains the best form of defense against the flu, according to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta System Medical Director of Infectious Diseases Dr. Andi Shane and other doctors and experts here and across the country, Oliviero wrote. It’s Shane’s No. 1 tip for protecting you and your family from the flu.
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