The mother was urged to treat her son’s flu with herbs and breastmilk instead of taking the child to the hospital
A 4-year-old boy from Colorado died of the flu this week, after his mother sought advice from a popular anti-vaxx group on Facebook. The group encouraged her to avoid giving her son Tamiflu, even though it was prescribed by his doctor, and instead urged her to pursue “natural” cures like thyme, breastmilk, and elderberry.
NBC news says a recent post in the Facebook group “Stop Mandatory Vaccination” came from the mom in question (the post has since been deleted), who mentioned that she declined to fill a prescription for Tamiflu. She said that two of her other children had tested positive for the flu, and that her four-year-old likely had it as well. The group, which is known for promoting misinformation about vaccinations and health in general, has more than 139,000 members.
“The doc prescribed tamiflu I did not pick it up,” she wrote, according to NBC News. She added that her typical “natural cures” for illness like peppermint oil and Vitamin C weren’t working. Apparently none of the people in the group advised her to seek medical attention, and instead suggested she treat it with other “natural” cures.
According to a GoFundMe set up by the family, the child was eventually hospitalized after suffering a fever-induced seizure, and died there four days later.
NBC reports that members of the “Stop Mandatory Vaccines” group have previously spread conspiracies about outbreaks of preventable diseases, calling them “hoaxes” perpetrated by the government. They also use the groups to mass-contact parents whose children have died and suggest without evidence that vaccines may be to blame.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends patients take antiviral treatment for the flu, like Tamiflu, as prescribed. Antiviral treatment is recommended as early as possible for any patient with confirmed or suspected influenza who:
- is hospitalized;
- has severe, complicated, or progressive illness
- is at higher risk for influenza complications
“This is a tragedy and our thoughts are with his family and loved ones,” a Facebook spokesperson tells NBC News. “We don’t want vaccine misinformation on Facebook, which is why we’re working hard to reduce it everywhere on the platform, including in private groups.”
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment confirmed that the young child had died from the flu and said it did not have records showing whether the child was vaccinated. “While flu is circulating, it is not too late to get a flu shot, and we recommend everyone ages six months and older who has not had the yearly vaccine get it,” the department said.