(CNN)A 4-year-old girl in Iowa nearly died and is now blind because of the flu, and her parents have a message: Get your child vaccinated. If I can stop one child from getting sick, thats what I want to do, said Amanda Phillips. Its terrible to see your child suffer like this.
US flu activity fell last week, but it's too early to say the worst is over Jade DeLucia, who did not receive a flu shot this season, caught the flu a few days before Christmas and spent nearly two weeks in the intensive care unit at the University of Iowa Stead Family Childrens Hospital.
She is lucky to be alive, said one of her physicians, Dr. Theresa Czech. Shes a little fighter. And I think shes super lucky. Her parents, whove missed work to care for Jade and face medical bills, have started a GoFundMe page. Read MoreEvery year, dozens of children die from the flu, and most of them had not received a flu shot, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Thousands more children are hospitalized. Many of those who becomes seriously ill or died were perfectly healthy before they contracted the flu. Jade is one of them.
Jade DeLucia before she contracted the flu. Its a little bug On December 19, Phillips noticed that Jade wasnt quite her usually bubbly self.
Most states make it difficult for children to get a flu shotShed say, Mom, I dont feel good, and wed cuddle on the couch, Phillips remembers. A few times over the next several days, Jade spiked a low-grade fever. Medicine brought it down easily, and she went back to playing with her older sister, Catalina.
She was running around, having fun, eating normally, asking for snacks, her mother remembers. It was just -- its a little bug, shell get over it. Phillips thinks back to those four days, December 19 through December 23, and wracks her brain for something that might have told her what was about to happen.
There wasnt any sign that wouldve told me that something was seriously wrong with her, she said. We have to go to the emergency room The night of December 23, while Phillips was working her shift as an assistant manager at a Dollar General store, Jades father, Stephen DeLucia, tucked Jade into bed.
Building a better flu vaccine -- one you don't have to get every yearThe next morning, the family was ready to leave the house to spend Christmas Eve with Phillips parents. But Jade hadnt yet woken up. When her father went to check on her, Jade was lying in bed, unresponsive. And her body was burning hot.
I yelled at him -- I was like, We have to go. We have to go to the emergency room. This isnt right. Somethings not right with her, Phillips said. When they arrived at Covenant Medical Center, Jades body started shaking uncontrollably, and her eyes rolled to the back of her head. She was having a seizure.
. Doctors filled the room. They said Jade needed to be transferred to the childrens hospital at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, about 80 miles away. There.....