Life-threatening flu case leaves 4-year-old girl blind

Jade DeLucia caught the flu a few days before Christmas and spent two weeks in ICU. / (CNN)

(CNN) -- The family of a 4-year-old girl in Iowa said the child nearly died and is now blind because of the flu. Now, her parents have a message -- Get your child vaccinated.

Jade DeLucia 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 Children's Hospital.

"She's lucky to be alive," one of Jade's doctors, Dr. Theresa Czech said. "She's a little fighter. And I think she's super lucky."

Jade had a strain of the flue called Influenza B. Health experts say children are the most vulnerable to this strain.

On Christmas Day the family found out the flu had affected Jade's brain.

"They said she had significant brain damage. They said our child might not ever wake up, and if she did, she might not ever be the same," the child's mother said.

Two weeks later, Jade woke up, but doctors noticed that she wasn't able to see. Doctors said the blindness could possibly be permanent.

Jade went home from the hospital on Jan. 9. Jade's mother said she and her sister received flu shots in March 2019.

However, she didn't realize her daughters needed to be vaccinated again for the 2019-2020 flu season.

Since the flu virus changes year to year, the vaccine also changes.

Flu vaccines become available at the end of the summer, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting a flu shot by the end of October to protect against flu in the upcoming winter.

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