Rhiannon Gillespie, the mother of four-year-old Savannah Gillespie who almost died of influenza A and a bacterial infection, has urged parents to vaccinate their children against the disease. Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable.
The cost of the flu shot depends on the patient's insurance. It has put so much pressure on public hospitals that governments are paying private hospitals to treat the overflow.
Dr Linda Diggle, head of preventive programmes, said that children aged five and below are two to three times more likely to contract the virus than adults and once infected can remain contagious for longer. An effectiveness study found the flu mist vaccine to be 46 percent effective, compared with the flu shot's 65 percent effectiveness. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.
Meanwhile, there are renewed calls for flu shots to be made free in the wake of the death of eight-year-old Victorian girl Rosie Brealey this week.
It is heartening that federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has asked Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy to advise on ways to strengthen the National Immunisation Program, including pushing pharmaceutical companies to develop stronger vaccines.
Each year in the US, flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths.
"Get your flu vaccine as soon as it is available each year", says Alison Watson, nurse manager at the Floyd County Health Department, "and there's plenty of it available in our community right now, including at the health department". Doctors advise those not yet immunised to get a shot.
Last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 33 Arizonans died after contracting the illness.