Kelly and Dan's Story - Flu
Kelly and Dan's son Louie
In December 2014, Kelly and Dan were preparing for their son, Louie's, first holiday season. Of course, the holiday season also coincides with cold and flu season in Minnesota. Louie got his first flu shot at his 6 month appointment at the end of October, but he hadn't received his second dose yet. (Children 6 months through 8 years who have not gotten flu vaccine before are recommended to get two doses at least four weeks apart.)
Louie had a cold for a couple weeks, but then on Dec. 2 he spiked a fever. They took him to the doctor where they did a chest X-ray and ran other tests, but they didn't find anything unusual. That night, Louie's breathing wasn't normal. "He definitely wasn't himself," Kelly said. "After we put him to bed we heard a strange cough and went in to find him gasping for air."
They rushed to the emergency room. The doctor said it was croup (inflammation of the upper airways, usually caused by a virus) and gave Louie medicine, but he wasn't responding. With the medicine not working, they had to intubate him so he could breathe and admitted him to the pediatric intensive care unit.
Louie was diagnosed with croup and tests came back positive for flu (influenza A). He was on a ventilator for about two days in the hospital and then on oxygen for a few days. He spent five long days in the hospital. "It was the worst week of our lives," Kelly recalls.
Finally, Louie was able to go home, but the journey wasn't over. It took about a month for Louie's eating and sleeping to get back to normal. Louie is doing well now, but it was a long road.
Looking back, Kelly and Dan are glad Louie had received his flu vaccine even though he still got sick. "We would feel so guilty if we hadn't done everything in our power." Kelly and Dan both got their flu vaccines as well, and never got the flu. The influenza strain that Louie had was a strain that drifted from the strain in the vaccine, but Kelly and Dan know that the vaccine still may have offered some protection and may have reduced the severity of Louie illness. "We can't imagine how much worse it would've been."
After their experience, Kelly and Dan hope other parents see how important vaccines are to protect their children and other children in the community. They encourage parents to get their kids vaccinated. "Give your kids the best shot at being healthy," they said. "If you can take them to a pediatrician and get them vaccinated to prevent disease, it's so worth it."