In recent years, vaccinations have been a heated topic of debate on social media. Around one-third of all American families have a difficult time paying for their medical bills, according to the CDC. It can be easy for parents to panic and try to seek advice on what to do wherever they can find it because they can’t afford medical care. With the ease of social media at our fingertips, we can access advice and information from millions of people around the world.
However, is that a wise thing to do? Seeking advice on the Internet can be life endangering. Recently, a four-year-old preschooler has passed away after his mother followed the advice of an anti-vaxx group on Facebook. Here’s the story behind what happened to this young boy and what you can do to prevent this tragedy from happening to you.
The Tragic Story
Towards the beginning of February, Geneva Montoya took two of her four young boys to the emergency room where they were diagnosed with influenza. When they got home, the children were given baths and sent to put on their pajamas and get ready for bed. Moments later, one of her children ran out to her and told her that his four-year-old brother Najee was sleeping. Geneva discovered her child lying pale on the floor, later finding out he had suffered a febrile seizure as the result of fever related to the flu.
Nagee was airlifted to the hospital after his mother called 911 and attempted to perform CPR. He was recently taken off life support and died. Approximately a week before this tragic event, Geneva has reached out to an anti-vaxx Facebook group for help in treating her sons’ illnesses. Members in the group allegedly insisted that the boys needed more vitamins, herbs, fruits, and vegetables rather than the Tamiflu medication prescribed by the emergency physician.
In screenshots that were published online by the Colorado Times Recorder, the mother admitted to using the recommended Vitamin C, elderberry, and peppermint oil the Facebook members advised. However, she wrote that the natural treatment didn’t appear to be working and she was “terrified for another seizure.” There is no scientific evidence or approval from the Food and Drug Administration regarding the effectiveness of the natural “treatments” she used for relieving flu symptoms.
Flu Epidemic Statistics
According to the CDC, an estimated 9.7 million people in the U.S. alone have experienced flu illnesses already this year. Of that number, at least 87,000 have been hospitalized and approximately 5,000 have died. At least 32 of these deaths were young children. According to the CDC, at least 170 million flu vaccines have been administered. The people who are most at risk for developing complications from the flu are those over the age of 65 years old, pregnant women, and adults and children who already are diagnosed with serious medical conditions.
Many Americans tend to treat the flu lightly because of its common occurrence in our society. However, new flu strains develop every year, getting stronger and deadlier if left unchecked. It’s important to do anything you can from preventing these viruses from spreading and getting worse. Fortunately, there are numerous ways you can help prevent influenza from spreading and infecting others, including yourself and your family.
Najee is just one of the 75% of U.S. children who attend a preschool program and it is unclear that he or his brothers received a flu vaccine prior to his death. Children in school are at greater risk of coming into contact with the flu and other deadly viruses. The best-known way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot. The best time to get one is in September or October before the virus typically starts to spread. Eating fruits and vegetables may help, but it most likely won’t be enough once the flu has started.
You can also make sure to wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer as much as possible. Look for an alcohol-based sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Don’t share personal items with anyone else and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Regularly disinfect commonly touched surfaces. Get plenty of sleep and exercise to keep your immune system going strong.
If your children exhibit signs of the flu, take them to the doctor for treatment immediately. If after hours, you can go to the emergency room or an urgent care center. Approximately 22% of people choose urgent care because they believe wait times will be shorter or that the location is more convenient for them. If you can’t afford medical care, you can go to a community clinic near you that may be able to provide you with free or reduced-cost medical care for you and your family.
Keep your child home from school if they have a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and have symptoms of vomiting, stuffy nose, chills, and body aches. It’s highly recommended that your child stays at home until at least 24 hours after the fever breaks. Make sure they get plenty of rest and fluids. You can also give them over-the-counter pain relievers and cough medication. If you go to the doctor, they may prescribe an antiviral medication such as Tamiflu to relieve symptoms and shorten the duration of the flu.
The tragic story of Najee’s death from the flu serves as a reminder that we need to be vigilant in regards to our health. If you haven’t received a flu shot already, strongly consider making an appointment today to get one. Be careful about following any advice you get over the Internet. Do thorough research for yourself and take any medications you’ve been prescribed by a medical professional as directed. Your health and the health of your family are your highest priorities so make sure you do everything you can to stay safe and protected from flu-related illnesses.