Friday Flu Shot: For Emily
Dec 02, 2011

Yesterday I had the privilege of being introduced to Emily Lastinger.  Her mother, Jen sounded much like any proud mother.  She spoke of how Emily liked princesses and power rangers.  She explained that Emily – like most 3 year olds – was both charming and challenging.  And she spoke of how Emily was enamored by her two big brothers, and excited about her soon-to-be-born sister.
Unfortunately, I will never have the opportunity to meet Emily – except in pictures and videos, and in the memories that her family holds dear.
And Emily never had the opportunity to meet her sister.
Unfortunately, Emily died as a result of influenza in 2004.
As I listened to her mother share her story, it was difficult not to think about my own children.  My now 10-year-old daughter, was the same age as Emily when she contracted the flu.  My 10-year-old daughter who is so vivacious and full of life.  Who is so inquisitive and full of wonder about the world.  Who is caring and generous.  Who makes me laugh, and smile, and cry, and worry.  I just couldn’t image my life without her, let alone this world without her.
Everyday I count my blessings and I pray for patience and understanding.  However, yesterday I struggled to understand how Emily’s life could be taken at such a young age.  Then I realized what a gift Emily and her family have given us.  In her three short years, Emily has managed to capture our attention.  Her parents have since made it their mission to help prevent unnecessary deaths from this vaccine preventable illness.  They are not only active participants in an organization called Families Fighting Flu, but they have taken action within their own state of Texas to ensure that schools across the state provide critical information about influenza vaccination by advocating for “Emily’s Law”.
As for Emily’s family, there will certainly always be a pain in their hearts as they are constantly reminded of their little angel in heaven.  But I, for one, am grateful that they care enough about me and my children – and you and your children – to push aside their heartbreak just long enough to share Emily’s story.  Their love and caring comes through in their story.  And they face their pain with determination and courage as they attempt to prevent this horrible tragedy from repeating itself within other families.
As Jen concluded her story yesterday, she said these strong, yet simple words.

“So, my message for all parents today is very simple.  Please vaccinate your children and yourselves this, and every flu season.  It could save the life of someone you love.”

In the video below, you will hear Emily’s story, as told by her father, Joe Lastinger.  You can also read Emily’s story at Families Fighting Flu.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdTPziTag4Q&feature=player_embedded]
If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, think of Emily and do it for her today.


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