I'm not an advocate for the HPV vaccine -- at this time there is no way I would allow my children to get it. But the flu shot? I'm a bit more lenient about. However, my kids do not get the flu shot, but I have. After hearing about a 19-year-year who died after battling an illness his mother believes was caused by getting the flu shot, I'm thinking more about it, and worrying more.
Lori Webb's teenage son Chandler got the flu vaccination on October 15th and the very next day he started getting adverse reactions. Side effects from getting the flu shot often happen, but severe illness and death is extremely rare. But what exactly happened to cause this otherwise healthy 19-year-old to slip into a coma and die a little over a month after getting the vax?
Chandler Webb was a very active teen -- he went to the gym, was in great shape, and was about to embark on a mission with the Church of Jesus Christ for Latter-Day Saints. He got the flu shot and started feeling very ill. He had terrible headaches, chills, uncontrollable shaking, and was vomiting. After a few days of this, he was admitted to the Intermountain Medical Center in Utah. Within 24 hours, Chandler slipped into a coma and never woke up.
Specialists performed many tests looking to see exactly what was ailing him -- they ruled out things like West Nile, Lyme disease, STDs and there were no answers. It's so terribly sad that they ran out of time before Webb succumbed to his mystery illness. The direct cause of death is listed as swelling of the brain. But what caused the brain swelling in a healthy 19-year-old?
Chandler's mom declined an autopsy but there is a brain biopsy that is pending and they are hoping to have some answers. She however said, "We’re angry because we believe it’s the flu shot that [caused] it. I’ve never been so scared in all my life to see my son go through so much." My heart breaks for her. I cannot even begin to imagine what she has gone through. I really hope she gets answers and that perhaps that will help her in some small way.
Tom Hudachko is Utah's Department of Health spokesman and he hasn't commented much directly on this case, but did say, "Like with other medical procedures, there can be side effects and adverse reactions. In the vast majority of those cases the side effects are not very severe — soreness at the injection site, low fever, achiness. Occasionally, yes, there are more severe side effects from receiving the vaccine." Is protecting yourself from the flu worth the small risk of getting the shot?
Given these details, I believe I would feel exactly like Lori Webb does. I would believe that the flu shot had something to do with Chandler's death. A mother's intuition is often right. I've done the research, and based on that, and hearing this story, I will not be vaccinating my kids at this time. I truly hope there is a large-scale investigation going on.
The touching details of Chandler's last moments are gut-wrenching. Chandler was taken off life support and his mother cut his hair for the last time. She told him the story of The Three Billy Goats Gruff, a tale she's told him since he was just a baby. And he passed.
Lori says she won't ever get another flu shot, though is stopping short of telling others to not get vaccinated. Instead she encourages everyone to read the labels, learn about the side effects, and make their own decision based on that. On losing her child, Lori said it something she just cannot describe. I wish it was something that she and anyone who has ever lost a child wouldn't have to.
My thoughts are with the Webb family.
How do you feel about the flu shot? Does this story make you not want to vaccinate your children?
Image via Michael Galpert/Flickr