Why This Doctor Wants Every Parent To Get Their Kids A Flu Shot This Season

"Holiday planning and fall festivities can wait, but the flu shot cannot."

While the flu vaccine isn't foolproof, experts recognize that it's the best defense against the virus. Regardless, people often hesitate to get their flu shot when it first becomes available. Dr. Laura Sidari, however, knows the consequences of delayed vaccination firsthand, as her son Leon was one of the 180 children who died from influenza during the 2017-2018 flu season. Now, to prevent similar tragedies, Sidari wants parents to understand why it's so important to vaccinate their children as soon as possible.

"Last year, Leon was one of 180 children nationally who died from the flu," Sidari posted on Facebook. "He was an 'old soul' with patience and gentleness beyond his 4 years of age. His smile was infectious, and his love for his brothers inspiring. Like roughly half of the children who die annually, he did not have a history of prior medical problems. His lungs were destroyed by bacterial pneumonia secondary to the flu. He died rapidly, only 2 days after showing general flu symptoms."

"As a mother, I wish I had fully appreciated the risk of the flu to my healthy child. I had delayed his shot to align with a well-child visit later in the season, which he did not survive to attend," she added. "I now intimately understand why the medical community overwhelmingly recommends the annual influenza vaccine for everyone over the age of 6 months."


Although one unvaccinated child has already died from the flu this season, Sidari's warning has the potential to save many lives as the end of the year quickly approaches. As Sidari told POPSUGAR, there are countless demands on parents' time and energy, especially as the holidays approach. Thus, getting the flu shot can slip through the cracks. Parents need to support each other in sorting through these priorities, Sidari added, and presenting people with the facts upfront will help everyone make informed, intelligent decisions.

"It has been medically established that the flu shot reduces the risk of influenza-related mortality by 65 [percent] for healthy children," Sidari wrote. "Of the children who die annually from flu-related complications, roughly 80 [percent] did not have their flu shot that season. It is the best option available to prevent child death due to the flu."

"Leon is my reason this season, and every season, for getting flu shots on time," she added. "This is the best time of the year to get the shot. Holiday planning and fall festivities can wait, but the flu shot cannot. If Leon or another little person is your reason for getting the flu shot this year, I ask that you consider sharing a family photo and spreading the word so that others may know too. #FluShotsForLeon"

While there are plenty of anti-vaxxers out there who insist that Sidari's warning could prove dangerous, her experience serves as a cautionary tale for those who might be questioning their perspective. Both young children and the elderly are especially susceptible to the influenza virus, so every parent must proceed with caution and act in their child's best interest as they decide how to care for them during the current flu season. For more information, consult your child's primary physician to determine which options are best for you and your family.

Cover image via CNK02 / Shutterstock



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