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Fighting the Flu

One Woman’s Tragic Story Shows the Real Danger of the Flu

Photo: Courtesy of Mariam Saifan Photography

Upwards of 80,000 people lose their lives to flu every year in the United States, including healthy children and adults. The majority of these people are not vaccinated.

At the age of 35, Kendra, whose family asked that her last name not be used to protect their privacy, was the picture of health. Three days after her first sign of illness, Kendra went to the local urgent care where she was diagnosed with influenza A.

The following day she was having difficulty breathing and her chest hurt. She was rushed to the local hospital in an ambulance and upon arrival, Kendra’s blood oxygen level was dangerously low. She was intubated and admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). Four days later, she developed sepsis, which is a common secondary complication of flu.

Kendra was life-flighted to a larger hospital where she was put on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine to keep her heart and lungs functioning. Some of the complications of Kendra’s influenza even required surgery.

Despite life-saving efforts and a month-long hospital stay, Kendra’s condition continued to deteriorate, and she passed away.

Kendra left behind her parents, her husband, and her two young children. Her mother, Joan, now uses Kendra’s story to educate others on the seriousness of flu. She wants others to know that everyone is at risk from flu, and annual flu vaccination is the best defense against flu and its associated complications. Every year, Joan makes sure her family, including her two grandchildren, receive an annual flu vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older receive an annual flu vaccine. An annual flu vaccine helps protect against flu-related illness, hospitalization, and death. And it also helps protect others. It’s not too late to vaccinate, so let’s all do our part to help protect public health.

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