Baby Clementine was burning with fever, coughing and sleeping almost around the clock. Her parents, Emily Ritchie and Lachlan Barnes, had no idea their 15-month-old had fallen ill with the flu.

Like more than two-thirds of Australian parents, they hadn’t immunised their daughter against the potentially deadly virus.

The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne has seen an alarming increase of almost 50 per cent in flu cases so far this season compared with last year. So far, 101 children have been diagnosed by the hospital with the illness, many of them admitted to intensive care, compared with 69 before the end of July in 2016.

In what flu experts are finding is a disturbingly common problem, a doctor had incorrectly told Clementine’s parents that children don’t need the flu shot.

This is despite a federal recommendation that all children over six months should have one. And despite the virus killing children or causing them permanent brain damage each year.

Mr Barnes said they were disappointed with the contrary advice being handed out.

“There’s a bit of outrage with some of our mates,” he said. “They’ve had … similar cases where they’ve asked for vaccinations and they haven’t been given them.”

Poor information about flu vaccination for children had contributed to the more severe flu season, Dr Margie Danchin said. The flu expert, who oversaw Clementine’s treatment, said doctors giving incorrect advice was a huge problem.

– Chloe Booker

Read More: Child flu cases show alarming rise amid incorrect vaccination advice from GPs

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