Prior to flu season, a lot of time is spent planning clinics. We discuss logistics, supplies and allotment of vaccine doses. We discuss staffing requirements, outreach, and availability. We do a lot of talking about target populations and ways to reach them. We look at the previous year’s statistics, including rates of hospitalizations and deaths due to influenza. However, there is one topic that brings the reality of influenza home: the personal story of one lost to the disease.
Jessica, the beautiful, 32-year old daughter of one of our own Registered Nurses, and a member of our community, passed away January 8, 2014 from the influenza virus. Jessica was a busy mom to Nathaniel, daughter to Kathy, and helpful hand to her grandmother.
Though having asthma, Jessica loved the outdoors and nature. She knew the trails of Round Mountain intimately and hiked there often. Jessica was not opposed to getting the flu shot. But, as with so many of us, life just gets busy. Jessica, exposed to the flu virus, became gravely ill and over a matter of a few days died from complications of the disease.Listening to the surreal events that unfolded over those few days, this could be anyone’s story. But it is not, it is Kathy’s (Jessica’s mom) story and she lives it daily. Jessica’s sudden illness, trip to the Emergency Room, hospitalization, intubation, and eventual death play over and over in Kathy’s mind. “She is the first thing that I think about when I wake in the morning and my last thought at night before I go to sleep.” Speaking with Kathy, she felt that Jessica would want to be part of the message, the dialogue, about how flu vaccinations save lives.
So, this year, we are dedicating our work to prevent influenza in memory of Jessica. No better message could be sent than a reminder that we all get busy and life happens, but a simple seasonal shot may prevent another member of our community from experiencing this loss.