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Winter Wellness

Getting a Flu Vaccine Can Save Your Family Members’ Lives

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flu vaccine-symptoms-cdc-hospitals

“This can’t be happening again.” Those words ran over and over through my mind just a few weeks ago as I sat alone at urgent care watching my three-year-old daughter fighting the flu.

My worst nightmare was happening again. In 2014, my then three-year-old daughter Cayden died of the flu in a matter of hours. Despite trips to the pediatrician and emergency room over the course of 48 hours, a flu test and diagnosis were never given, even after pointing out Cayden had not been vaccinated because she was sick at the time of her last doctor’s appointment. Doctors said my bubbly “Cady-Bug’s” little body was simply overwhelmed by H1N1, a strain of Influenza A. The flu caused her death.

Now, my three-year-old daughter Layla was experiencing eerily similar symptoms. It was an overwhelming flashback.

After losing Cayden, my entire family always get their annual flu shot. We did this in late September, knowing that the flu season was predicted to be especially bad this year. I credit Layla’s survival to having received her vaccine.   

Photo courtesy of Jessica Richman
Photo courtesy of Jessica Richman

The symptoms between the two girls were very much the same: lethargy, high fever, and an elevated heart rate. I feel lucky that not only did the healthcare providers treating Layla take her symptoms very seriously, but they were also understanding to a mom who was going through the shock of a very sick toddler for the second time.

Flu has been rampant in many parts of the country, including Virginia. As of late November, the CDC and the Virginia Department of Health are categorizing flu activity in the state as “very high,” with over 11,000 confirmed cases of the flu already this season.

Despite reports of hospitals being overwhelmed with flu and other respiratory illnesses, especially among kids, flu vaccination rates remain low. 

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu shot, and my family is living proof of why vaccination is so important.

As we continue into the holiday season and winter months, I can’t say strongly enough how important it is that anyone who has yet to be vaccinated do so as soon as possible. It might just be the difference in saving a life, as it did for my family.

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