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When the Flu Turns Deadly

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Two children have died of the flu this week. How can we protect our kids?

Hunter Pope

Two kids this week, age 10 and 12, have died of the flu.

12-year-old Hunter Pope of Boston died over the weekend. Dr. Anita Barry, director of the infectious disease bureau for the Boston Health Commission, said Tuesday there's no indication that the boy had any underlying health problems.

The boy's mother, Tess Pope, tells the Boston Herald that he was not vaccinated because he lost his permission slip. "I didn't know until yesterday -- he lost the (permission) sheet," the heartbroken mom said.

While some parents distrust medicine, Pope said she embraced it and would have eagerly encouraged him to have had the school-sponsored flu shot, noting Hunter, his twin sister, Molly, and 15-year-old twin brothers, Connor and Ramsay, were all conceived through in vitro fertilization. "The fact that he lived at all is through medicine," said the distraught mother.

The federal Centers for Disease Control reports four children nationwide have died from flu through Feb. 7.

As mothers, this completely freaks us out that our children could DIE from the flu.

But momlogic pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson says this is an unfortunate reality.

"There are an estimated 36,000 flu deaths a year, and people of all ages are susceptible," she says. "It's a hideous thing to say that pediatric deaths from the flu are not surprising, but they are not. It happens every year. This is a disease that can kill you."

Dr. Cara says some children die of the actual flu virus, while others die from secondary bacterial infections like MRSA or pneumonia that they contract while having the flu, when their immune systems are down.

"The AAP recommends that all kids six months to 18 years are vaccinated for the flu annually," she says. "If you have a child who is less than six months old, it is recommended that parents, siblings, and others who live in the home get the flu shot. I vaccinate my own children and myself every year."

She says the myth that "you can get the flu from the flu shot" is bogus. "There is no live virus in the flu shot, so you cannot get the flu from it," she says. "The nasal vaccine ADD is an attenuated -- or weakened -- flu virus, so it can cause mild flu-like symptoms such as runny nose, but does not cause the actual flu."

Dr. Cara says it is not too late to get your kids vaccinated. "The flu season can last all the way into April, or even May, so there is still time to get the flu shot," she says.

According to Dr. Cara, the odds of a child dying of the flu are probably extremely remote ... but it does happen. "The flu shot can reduce that risk," she says. "The flu kills 30-150 children each year ... and that's 30-150 too many. Why take the chance?"

Did your kids get flu shots this year? If not, will you make the appointment now?

next: YouTube Attacker's Mom Arrested
23 comments so far | Post a comment now
ashley February 19, 2009, 7:21 AM

Well, I needed a good cry and a good scare this morning!! I absolutely will be taking my kids to get the shot!!

Cyn February 19, 2009, 10:49 AM

So horrible. We get our flu shots usually when they first come out. I’m so sad for the families of these children.

Anonymous February 19, 2009, 11:01 AM

the flu shot only covers a few of the MANY strains of flu their are and you are lucky if it happens to cover the one you get. Why dont we look at kids diets and how much sugar they are eating, hydrogenated oils, and bad crap they are putting into their diet. Sugar is proven to weaken immune systems. How many vegetables and fruits are kids eating. What are parents doing to strengthen their kids immune systems rather than just giving them a shot full of crap and hoping that one of the 3 strains of flu it covers will protect them! Would you feed your kids formaldyhyde or chicken embryonic fluid? Thats what is in a flu shot….no, actually I would rather just inject it into their blood stream…NOT!!!!!

My heart goes out to this family and I cant imagine the pain they are going through with the loss of their child.

But its time to wake up america and change our diets and feed our kids what their bodies were intended to eat!

Anonymous February 19, 2009, 11:31 AM

Sounds like the mother didn’t try hard enough for him to get a shot. He lost his slip. She could have called the school and said he needed another DUH! People just don’t want to take responsibility for their actions anymore.

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Farmmaid February 19, 2009, 11:58 AM

As the poster above noted concerning diet and strengthening our kids’ immune systems, taking responsibility for our actions involves way more than a shot. These shots are a way to think we have done something without doing anything real. They are false security, and worse, may actually make us ill.

We would all do our families a favor if we stopped these things (for starters): using antibacterial soaps, eating non-food, trying to control everything by pre-medicating. Instead, find out what REAL FOOD is, allow kids to prime their immune systems by playing outside in the dirt, and accept that, though tragic, the weakest among us may not survive.

Kat February 19, 2009, 12:02 PM

RE: “Anonymous” Post @ 11:31am….you insensitive cow…how horribly inappropriate to be the end all be all of judgement!!! Have some decency, they are burying their child, a horribly unnatural event…go back to your LifeTime TV, and leave the grown-ups with rational thought processes alone! My heart and prayers go out to this family…please take comfort in knowing that he is at peace and the angels were lonely. God Bless.

Nancy February 19, 2009, 12:05 PM

That is terrifying. All 3 of my boys had the shot but we just went to the pedi yesterday and she thinks my youngest may have the flu anyway. :(

Anonymous February 19, 2009, 12:14 PM


I am not being insensitive……as I clearly stated that my heart goes out to this family and I cant imagine the pain they are going through. Nor did I place ANY judgement on this mom…I am simply stating that America needs to wake up and start looking at what they are feeding their kids and how they are building their immune systems instead of relying on a shot that ONLY COVERS 3 STRAINS OF THE MANY STRAINS OF FLU THEIR ARE!!!!!! And for your info, I dont watch TV!

Heather S February 19, 2009, 12:17 PM

To the Anonymous poster who advocates for changing diets rather than getting the flu shot: I call BS on your false dichotomy.

Some of us can, should, and do ensure that our children are consuming the healthiest diets possible. We should also ensure that they are reasonably protected from other factors, like the flu, by being immunized.

The solution is not one or the other. We are capable of doing more than one thing at a time to protect our children.

Think of it like this: In order to minimize the chances of my child being harmed while riding in my car, I not only make sure that he is properly fastened into the car seat, I also ensure that I’m not driving in unsafe weather, I’m not driving after having had a glass of wine, and I avoid driving to close to the car in front of me.

Heather S. February 19, 2009, 12:21 PM

Anonymous, I’m pretty sure Kat’s post was not directed to you.

My post, however, was.

Anonymous February 19, 2009, 1:05 PM


I am not going to give my kids formaldyhyde and embryonic chicken fluid in hopes that it will save them from a possible 3 strains of flu when their are a hundred other ones that they can get. I would rather take other measures to boost their immune system and give their bodies what it needs to fight off germs. Giving them a vaccine for the flu is not strengthening them….only weakening their immune system.

read that article

jw February 19, 2009, 1:38 PM

My heart goes out to all who have lost loved ones. I pray that their memories of the times they had together can give them comfort in their time of need. I have to add some information for all of you who think that healthy diet is enough to prevent this from happening because that is not enough. No one in my family has ever gotten the flu. We eat healthy meal every night for dinner always with vegies of one type or another and I always make sure my kiddos get a good healthy breakfast before leaving for school every day. Since we eat a healthy diet and have never gotten the flu I always thought there was no reason for us to get the vaccination. My kids have all their other vaccines but I never saw the importance of the flu vaccine. WELL….. I’m on my second run of the flu since February 1st. That’s right in less than a month I’ve officially gotten the flu twice! This is the most awful illness , every square inch of body aches and my asthma has flared up. I feel like I should be in a hospital. My husband had to come home from work to take me to the hospital because I could hardly walk much less drive. Needless to say I have had a change of heart about the flu vaccine. My entire family will be going in to get our flu vaccines as soon as possible. So for all of you who are like I was, I say don’t be stubborn and go out and get that vaccine so you can protect your families. This is an awful, deadly illness that can be prevented.

Anonymous February 19, 2009, 1:45 PM

JW…How do you know the strain of flu you have is one of the 3 strains the vaccine covers???? Their are hundreds of strains of the flu.

I am sorry you were so sick. I hope you feel better!

jw February 19, 2009, 3:00 PM

I know because after getting the no so comfortable flu test (up the nose) my doctor came back into the room and said, “Yup you’ve got flu and you didn’t get your flu shot did you?” To which I said, “No. Would that have really have prevented this flu?” and he said “yes it would have…”

desert ruby February 19, 2009, 3:29 PM

This reads more like MomPropaganda than it does MomLogic. Promoting the notion (via fearmongering) that flu shots have a 100% efficacy rate is disingenous at best.

angrymom February 19, 2009, 10:40 PM

JW - And you don’t suppose your doctor isn’t being paid by the manufacturers of these flu shots to tell you that?
People, wake up. Vaccines and flu shots are bogus. The companies that manufacture them are are greedy. They don’t give a sh*t about you or your kids’ health!

jw February 20, 2009, 10:17 AM

Angrymom - Vaccines are not bogus. They have saved millions & millions of lives. Your children (even if you didn’t get them vaccinated) are alive and healthy today because vaccinations have eradicated many deadly diseases and because the other parents in your community have vaccinated their children which has stopped the spread of disease. Its radical people like you who don’t vaccinate their kids who are causing the return of deadly diseases like measles. What’s next, smallpox? I hope and pray not, but that’s where we’re all headed if people don’t come to their senses soon. So climb out of your bunker once in a while and get your kids vaccinated. And if you choose to not vaccinate your kids then keep then PLEASE don’t send them to public school. This new attitude that vaccines are bogus/dangerous is a fairly new trend. Surely you were vaccinated against deadly diseases as a child, don’t you think your kids deserve the same protection?

Chris February 20, 2009, 11:02 AM

Hey Anonymous, NOBODY gives a rat’s — - as to whether or not you watch tv.

It appears you have far more pressing matters such as making sure
that your can is firmly planted in front of your computer screen
so as to rebut anyone who dares to comment regarding your “judgement”
which is in FACT what it was!

And I quote
(incase you are too busy typing back already to scroll upwards
and see your own self-rightous comment)

“Sounds like the mother didn’t try hard enough for him to get a shot.
He lost his slip. She could have called the school and said he needed another DUH! People just don’t want to take responsibility for their actions anymore.”

That is clearly a judgement by you towards the mother of the child.

END of story!

You can make further defensive commentary on your own wounded and hopefully “shamed” jugdemental self the REST of today and this weekend!

It will NOT change your original post… DUH.

Have you not figured that out yet???
Go find someone else to belittle and berate, your work here was done with your original post.
Take responsibility for your own action…

Come down off your pillar of parental perfection before your nosebleed gets worse!

jw February 20, 2009, 8:48 PM

Well said Chris !!!!!!!

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