Not Getting Flu Shot Can Be Risky

With the flu season on the horizon, doctors are once again urging the public to get vaccinated. They say the number of people getting flu shots has dropped off since the H1N1scare two years ago. But not getting immunized can have tragic consequences more often than people think.

Most people probably fall into two categories. The kind that’s afraid of getting sick and gets a flu shot every year, and the kind that says, ‘Ahh, I never get real sick. I’ll be fine.’

Joe Lastinger
Joe Lastinger remembering his daughter Emily

Joe Lastinger didn’t think much about the flu either, that is until his three year old daughter Emily got sick back in 2004.


“She would have high fevers, but then she’d rebound and be really hungry and want to run around a little bit.”

Lastinger told his story to a group of health care workers attending a flu summit sponsored by Houston Community College.

His daughter was seen by a doctor on a Thursday and was sent home. But the flu symptoms lingered over the weekend until the following Monday, and that when things took a turn for the worse.

“I heard my wife start screaming from upstairs. And she had gone in and found that she had stopped breathing.”

Emily was rushed to the hospital, but her condition never improved.

“Around 9:30 that night, we were told that she had there was a threshold of drugs they could keep putting into her. And we lost her.”

Doctor Paul Glezen a Houston pediatrician admits, it’s rare for children to die from the flu. Out of the millions of children in the U.S, 116 flu related deaths were reported last year. On the other hand, Dr. Glezen says it’s much more common for seniors to die from the flu.

“An elderly person, who probably has a chronic underlying condition in addition to being old, they’re more likely to die if they get the flu. Now kids and young adults often withstand the fatal end point, but many of them are hospitalized for a long period of time.”

Glezen says all people should get vaccinated, regardless of their age and regardless of whether they get sick easily or infrequently. He says for some people, the flu may seem just like a minor cold, but they risk spreading the illness to others. People like Joe Lastinger’s daughter, whose bodies, for some reason, are unable to fight off the virus.