H1N1 Anniversary: Faded for Some, Forever for Others

Big Kid 12

H1N1 vaccine
Flickr photo by Jacobo Tarrio
Remember the H1N1 swine flu frenzy? It's strange to think it's been one year since we were all running around with our heads cut off about this. Do my kids have swine flu? Is H1N1 in the schools? Vaccinate? Don't vaccinate? Some days now, swine flu seems a distant, almost silly, memory.

But not for one mom who lost her 7-year old son to H1N1 last November.

When Jessica Holt's two young sons Joey, 7, and Jeffrey, 3, fell ill with flu symptoms, she didn't get overly worried. Both boys were healthy, active children, and many people get the flu every year.

Joey was sent home from school with a temperature of 103 and a belly ache. A doctor's visit two days later provided Joey with antibiotics and the typical flu cure: Fluids and lots of rest. That night, when Joey began to vomit, look pale, and feel cold to the touch, Jessica called 911.

On the way to the hospital, Joey's heart rate dropped rapidly. He said, "I love you, Mama. Hold my hand." And then he died.

Now Jessica lives daily with not only heartache but daily regret. She said, "If I had gotten my son Joey vaccinated, maybe he'd be here right now. You don't want to walk in my shoes. I live every day with that regret: Why didn't I do it?"

It's easy for those of us who stayed clear of the virus last year to feel like it was nothing or even feel like we perhaps overreacted. And maybe, in some ways, we did. However, Jessica Holt's reality is where that fear stemmed from. None of us want this to happen to our children.

Some parents reacted by vaccinating or not vaccinating, pulling their kids out of school, or reading everything they could about the flu's symptoms and risks. And others, like Jessica perhaps, simply took comfort in the ongoing health of our children. For most of us, any and all of these approaches worked, and we didn't lose a child to H1N1 last year.

So what's the lesson? Maybe there isn't one. Maybe we can only weigh the odds and do our best every day to watch over and protect our children. Maybe having a child walking around the planet is simply a risky business and some things are genuinely out of our hands. And perhaps over-preparing or overreacting helps some of us feel better about what some days feels like Russian Roulette. Maybe others keep their sanity by not overreacting until there's something to react about. 

Like Jessica Holt, plenty of people educated about H1N1 or not made a similar choice not to vaccinate and didn't see a similar fate.

My deepest condolences go out to Jessica, brother Jeffrey, and the rest of their family.

health, swine flu


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mommy... mommyheymommy

I am so sorry about that mother's loss.  Still, we didn't and won't vaccinate for H1N1.  My kids had it, and recovered quickly with no meds other than acetaminophen.  It is so strange how it being serious, or fatal was so random.

ethan... ethans_momma06

My heart goes out to that poor mom. Choosing to vaccinate or not is such a difficult decision to make.

sodapple sodapple

i'm sorry to hear about her loss. i know how difficult it can be to choose something as important as vaccines, i myself chose not to get it or give it to my oldest daughter. i know it was a risk that i picked but i know many lives were lost to h1n1 and it is sad that it had to touch children as well.

tazdvl tazdvl

Sorry to hear about her loss. I though long and hard about getting the vaccine for my kids, I'm kinda glad it took so long to get here so I had time to think about it.....I did end up taking them to get it.

Carey... Carey2006

One of my fears.....to underestimate how sick my kids really are.....I tend to just take him to the doctors or ER for everything but EVEN THEN.....ya never know cuz not even the medical officials catch everything!!!!

My deepest condolences go out to Jessica and her family. Thanks for keeping Joey's memory alive by sharing your story of caution with others!!!!

frysh... fryshannon34

What a sad story.I am so sorry Jessica and your whole family.It is awful to think you could lose your child to the flu.We didnt vaccinate.

Cafe... Cafe MicheleZ

My heart hurts. Deepest condolences to Jessica and her family.

tonya... tonyalynn

im sorry for you and your family

maine... mainemusicmaker

That poor family.  No mother should have to endure that.  My condolences and sincerest sympathy :(

asil asil

I'm saddened by this story... we chose NOT to do the vax, but we don't do most... but it is a tough decision to make... knowing that your child could get sick with what you could have possibly prevented... and weighing that with possibly getting sick from something you did to prevent something else... it's a fine line, and each mom, dad, and family must make that very very hard choice.

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