Iowa City, Iowa — There are urgent new calls for children to get vaccinated against the flu amid a number of pediatric deaths. One 4-year-old girl survived the virus but has lost her vision.
It started with a low-grade fever last month. But by Christmas Eve, Jade DeLucia was unresponsive.
"She was just laying in her bed not moving. Her eyes were kind of up in her head and she wouldn't wake up," said her mother, Amanda Phillips.
Jade had the flu. But even worse, a rare complicating infection was attacking her brain. She got a flu shot last March, but not for the current season which started this fall. Dr. Alex Bassuk treated Jade after she was taken to the University of Iowa Children's Hospital.
"The key point in this case is that it has to happen every season. The vaccine is not once in a lifetime vaccine. It's not a once a year vaccine. It doesn't last a year," Bassuk said.
The onset of this flu season is the earliest since 2003 and it's hitting children particularly hard. Already there have been a total of 32 pediatric deaths reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the highest number at this point in the season in five years.
While Jade steadily improved in the hospital and is now home, the infection has robbed her of her sight, at least for now. Bassuk said it's "hard to know at this point" if her sight will return. "There can be recovery. So we are still hopeful," Bassuk added.
Her mother is just happy Jade survived and is still hoping for a full recovery. "She's started to talk a lot more, so it's awesome to see her personality come back," she said.
A GoFundMe account has been set up for Jade.