Friday Flu Shot: Families Fighting Flu
Nov 18, 2011

As a parent, my biggest fear is that something horrible may one day happen to one of my children.  It’s like a big, dark, mysterious shadow constantly lurking behind me.  While I do my best to go about my life, trying to enjoy every blessed moment with my husband and children, I’m constantly aware that life can change in the blink of an eye.
We’ve all known people who’ve died.  Maybe in a car crash. Or maybe after battling cancer.  Maybe from old age or maybe as a result of a birth defect.  But when you hear of a family who has lost their child to influenza…well.. it just seems so…unbelievable.
Many people mistakenly believe that influenza is not particularly dangerous.  It’s often compared to a bad cold.  In fact, people throw the word “flu” around in such a way that perhaps it is becoming too common place. How many times have you heard someone say, “I don’t feel well. I must have the flu,” yet their symptoms suggest it’s just a persistent cold.  I’ve even heard people talk about a “24-hour flu” or the “stomach flu”.  Could it be that using the word “flu” in this way contributes to the perception that the flu isn’t really as dangerous as it can be?
It’s important that people realize that the flu is a serious illness that kills more Americans each year than all other vaccine preventable diseases combined.   It is estimated that each year, between 10 and 20 percent of the U.S. population will be infected with the virus, which will result in the death of approximately 3,000 to 49,000 people in the United States alone.
Unfortunately, there are families who know how serious influenza can be.  Sadly, these are the people who have watched their children suffer or die as a result of the flu.  These are the parents who, despite their pain, speak out courageously through an organization known as Families Fighting Flu in hopes that they can prevent their story from becoming yours.
Of course, this is the time of year when Families Fighting Flu is busiest.  Not only are they working to raise awareness regarding the dangers of influenza, but they are constantly encouraging people to receive their annual influenza vaccines in order to save lives and reduce the transmission of the flu in our communities.  Their latest public service announcement features Luke Duvall, a healthy, fifteen year old high school football player, who was in a coma and hospitalized as a result of influenza in 2009.  This new campaign, entitled Choose You Over the Flu,  calls attention to the severity of this disease and reminds parents that prevention is possible through vaccination.
Luke explains,

“I was in the hospital for 34 days fighting for my life and it was a long and painful recovery process. Thankfully, I’m here today to share my story, which, believe me, is not as uncommon as you think.”

It’s important to know the facts when it comes to influenza and the vaccine to prevent it.  Unfortunately many people do not receive their annual flu vaccine because they are concerned about common misconceptions.  However, Families Fighting Flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and are all resources that will help you to dispel those common myths.
If you would like to help Families Fighting Flu, be sure to visit their website for more information on how you can become a partner, member, advocate or medical advisor.  Additionally, please take a moment to “Like” the “Don’t Wait Vaccinate” Facebook page, and you can help Families Fighting Flu receive donations from the page sponsor.
And remember, if you haven’t received the influenza vaccine yet, it’s not too late.  Make a point to get vaccinated today and help us to put a stop to influenza in our communities.

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