8-Year-Old Boy With Autism Just Died From the Flu -- Despite Getting the Flu Shot

Little boy and dad
Steve Dannaway/Facebook

As the flu season takes its toll on victims across the country, there's been an influx of heartbreaking stories about loved ones who were otherwise healthy before quickly dying from the flu. From Alani "Joie" Murrieta, an Arizona mom of two who caught the flu from her kids and died the day after being diagnosed, to 18-month-old Nathaniel Lee Downey, who was a "normal kid" just an hour before his death, cases of the flu are increasing across the country. Now another family is saying good-bye after their child unexpectedly died even though he was vaccinated.


Tyler Dannaway of Little Rock, Arkansas, was just 8 years old when he passed away from the flu on Tuesday. In total, 30 children have died nationwide from influenza so far this season, and Tyler was the first pediatric flu death reported to the Arkansas Department of Health this year, according to KARK.

Tyler's parents, Steve and Teresa Dannaway, shared that what made their little boy's death even more shocking was that they had hoped he was protected because he had received the flu shot this year. Instead, the bubbly second-grader with autism died within two days of getting sick. "Sunday morning he was laughing, giggling," the grieving parents told KARK. "Forty-eight hours later, he was gone."

Steve Dannaway/Facebook

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The Dannaways said that Tyler was diagnosed with the flu on Monday after they took him to the doctor when his fever spiked to nearly 105 degrees. But by Tuesday morning the situation became dire. They found him disoriented in the kitchen and he collapsed soon after. The child wasn't breathing, and despite his being rushed to the hospital via ambulance, emergency room doctors told the family they weren't able to restart Tyler's heart.

"It's just mindboggling," the Dannaways said. "There's no way to wrap your head around it. To be here, happy and giggling and laughing, and then two days later be gone ... there are just no words." 

According to the CDC, the flu is currently moving across all states in the country (except for Hawaii) at the same time. Although the flu shot was designed to protect against multiple strains, it isn't working well against the most common strain making rounds: H3N2. 

"The H3N2 strain tends to make for a more severe disease, particularly among older people and people with underlying illness," William Schaffner, a physician and infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told the Washington Post. "But it can affect any child or adult and literally make them gravely ill within 48 hours, to the point where they have to be in the hospital, in intensive care. This can and does happen."

Teresa Dannaway/Facebook

More from CafeMom: Toddler's Tragic Flu Death Sparks Urgent Warnings to Get Kids Vaccinated

Steve shared the devastating news with loved ones on Facebook after Tyler's tragic passing. "There are no words that can adequately address what today has been like. Those of you who met him know exactly how special he was and the impact he had on not only me and my family but also everyone he met was profound," he wrote. "He was a determined little man who worked had to overcome the obstacles in his life and he did it all with a smile and flash of his big, blue eyes. He was gentle-natured and his teachers said they didn't think he had a temper at all. He will be missed by everyone who had the privilege of knowing him."

Whether you vaccinate your child or not isn't up to Steve, but he is going to pressure parents to do one thing. "Please hug your kids extra tight tonight and I pray none of you ever have a day like today," he wrote.

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