At first it seemed like a cold for baby Willow, but this soon turned into a serious diagnosis that required hospital. Mother Leanne describes her youngest child’s experience of influenza.

It was mid-winter when mother Leanne noticed her baby, Willow, had a runny nose. As a mum of eight children, she was familiar with the normal ailments of youngsters and she nursed her child for a suspected cold.

However, baby Willow’s temperature continued to rise and she became lethargic. Leanne realised this was not a cold and acted quickly by taking her baby to hospital. The emergency doctors connected the baby to a drip in the children’s ward. This was a traumatic experience for both Leanne and Willow.

“When I looked at my baby in hospital in that bed connected to drips, screaming and so desperately unwell, I realised I could have done something to prevent this from happening.” Mother Leanne, from Sydney.

Protecting baby Willow from influenza

Blood tests confirmed that Willow had influenza A - often considered the most serious strain1 - and she was kept in hospital for a number of days. There are three types of influenza virus: A, B and C that can all cause serious illness.1 Children under 5 years of age are at increased risk of complications and hospitalisation.2,3

Baby Willow has now fully recovered. However, as a result of their experience, Leanne is now an advocate for influenza vaccination.

Leanne and Willow, Sydney

“It was an awful time for me because, as her mum, I should be looking after her, protecting her and doing everything to prevent her from getting sick. I would hate for anyone else’s child to get that unwell, so I’m now a huge advocate for the vaccination,”
Leanne said.

April sees start of influenza National Immunisation Program

This year’s influenza National Immunisation Program will provide free vaccinations to children (from 6 months to under 5 years of age), those aged 65+ and people at high risk of complications, such as those with cardiovascular disease.4 For further information on influenza and its prevent, please speak with your healthcare professional.

  1. Health Direct. Available at:
  2. Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). Australian Immunisation Handbook, Australian Government Department of Health, Canberra, 2018. Available from: [Accessed 1st April 2020]
  3. Li-Kim Moy J et al (2016) Australian vaccine preventable disease epidemiological review series: Influenza 2006 to 2015. Commun Dis Intill 2016;40(4):E482-E495. Available at: [Accessed 1st April 2020]
  4. Department of Health. National Immunisation Program 2020 influenza vaccination provider toolkit Available at: [Accessed 30th March 2020]

April 22, 2020