A Queensland girl has died from the flu and the state’s Chief Health Officer John Gerrard issued an impassioned plea for people to get vaccinated.

The ABC understands the 11-year-old died last week at Sunshine Coast University Hospital after contracting influenza B.

It comes after a teenage girl died of influenza B on the New South Wales Central Coast.

Dr. Gerrard said this month 78 children aged six months to four years had been in hospital in Queensland with flu – 50 of them diagnosed with the B strain.

“Only one of these children was vaccinated,” he said.

Another 11 babies under six months of age have also been hospitalized this month with the flu, eight of them with influenza B.

“Influenza B is causing serious illness in otherwise healthy Queenslanders, particularly young people.

“We are concerned with the return of school that we may see transmission of influenza B in schools in the coming weeks,” said Dr. Gerrard to ABC.

“Influenza B is known to be associated with severe disease in children.”

Dr. Gerrard said he was also concerned about pregnant women getting the flu, given the risk they could lose their baby.

“This season we’ve had a number of pregnant women who have been on life support in intensive care and it’s been quite striking how severe it’s been this season so far,” he said.

“Pregnant women are particularly prone to severe influenza because pregnancy is a state of relative immunosuppression.

“Influenza vaccine is very safe to give during pregnancy. We know that.”

So far this year, Queensland has recorded 47,300 flu cases, including more than 3,800 people who required admission to hospital.

Dr. Gerrard blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for this season’s “pattern of viral disruption”.

“There will be children who have never been exposed to the influenza B virus because of the events of the last three years,” he said.

“It is especially important for children and pregnant women to get the vaccine now.”

Sunshine Coast Health said clinicians were providing support to the family of the child who died.

“We would like to express our sincere condolences to the family at this extremely difficult time,” it said in a statement.

“This experience is heartbreaking for everyone involved.

“Sunshine Coast Health protects the privacy and confidentiality of the patients accessing our services and will not comment on individual circumstances surrounding treatment.”

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