Gatineau clinics busy following child's flu death

Some families in Gatineau are scrambling to get their kids the influenza vaccine after a three-year-old girl died earlier this month from the flu.

Clinics say they've seen an increase in families looking for influenza vaccine

Three-year-old Charlotte died in just three days after developing the flu. (Radio-Canada)

Public and private clinics in Gatineau say they've seen an increase in families looking to get their children vaccinated against the flu following the death of a three-year-old girl earlier this month. 

Nancy Bouchard said her normally energetic daughter, Charlotte, developed a 42 C fever on Monday, Jan. 14. Doctors in Buckingham, Que. diagnosed her with influenza, but her condition deteriorated and she was transferred to Montreal, where doctors discovered an infection had reached her liver and brain.

She was pronounced dead on Thursday afternoon. 

'People are very worried'

"People are very worried, yes, and with cause," said Jenny Laporte, a nurse at Arrimage Santé in Gatineau.

"It's always very serious when a life is lost due to influenza, especially children," she said.

Laporte says the privately funded clinic in Gatineau has been busy with families who don't want to take a chance after what they read in the news. 

Jenny Laporte says families showing up at the clinic don't want to take a chance following news of the young girl's death. (Radio-Canada)

Public clinics are also seeing an increase of worried families, according to Dr. Carol McConnery, an infectious disease consultant with the Centre intégré de santé et des services sociaux de l'Outaouais.

"Most of our big clinics were done and we had to add on some more clinics because of the demand," McConnery said.

"We've given about 300 appointments in the last week."

Unlike Ontario, Quebec doesn't have a universal immunization program for influenza but the province's health minister is now looking into the possibility of expanding the number of people who can receive free flu vaccines.

Getting the message out

In a French interview, Bouchard said her daughter wasn't vaccinated against the flu and so she's happy to see people are taking action.

She is awaiting autopsy results to see if influenza was the only cause of her daughter's death as she begins plans for a funeral. 

"I know I can't change what happened, but I want to understand it," said Bouchard in French.

Nancy Bouchard doesn't know if her daughter would still be alive had she been vaccinated against the flu, but says she's happy people are taking action. (Radio-Canada)

Flu vaccine demand in Ottawa

The demand for influenza vaccine has also been high this season in Ottawa.

Ottawa Public Health has seen 410,000 doses of vaccine distributed to healthcare providers and pharmacies, more than for all of the 2017-18 season.

"Flu vaccine is still available at some pharmacies and healthcare providers, and at the OPH immunization clinic, however supply is limited," said Ottawa Public Health's Donna Casey in a written statement.

"Due to this decreasing supply, we have been working with our healthcare partners to continue to enable access to the flu vaccine for Ottawa residents," she added.