Mom Who Lost Child To Flu Complications Raises Awareness Of Flu Shot's Importance

by Megan Zander
Image via Q13Fox

A mom is raising awareness about the life saving potential of the flu shot after losing her own daughter to the flu last year

Like all parents, Pegy Lowery hated to see her daughter in pain. So when her 12-year-old daughter Piper objected to getting a flu shot last year on the grounds that she was very afraid of needles, Lowery didn’t want to upset her child. She decided to let Piper skip the flu shot.

But Piper caught the flu. On January 12, 2016 she came down with a very high fever. At one point her temperature was so high it reached 105 degrees. Lowery took her daughter to the doctor three times, but tragically, four days after she first got sick, Piper passed away. The official cause of death was renal failure caused by complications from the H1N1 virus that had attacked her kidneys.

While she isn’t 100% positive that Piper would still be alive had she gotten her flu shot last year, it’s possible that getting the shot would have protected her against the flu. Lowery is now working with the Fight the Flu Foundation to promote the flu shot in hopes of preventing another family from losing a child.

“For us, it’s been really hard,” she told CBS of Piper’s death. “All I have now is pictures, an urn sitting on the mantle.” In addition to putting together brochures, Lowery has also knitted over 700 hats for babies to encourage parents to follow the CDC’s recommendation to vaccinate their children against the flu starting at six months. “I want my daughter’s legacy to live on forever,” Lowery said. “That’s my job now – to be her legacy maker.”

Of course, the flu isn’t fatal for every child. But the fever, chills, vomiting and body aches that come with the flu are fun for no one and getting your child their flu shot could help prevent them from getting seriously sick. According to the CDC, a 2014 study showed that flu vaccine reduced children’s risk of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) admission by 74% during flu seasons from 2010-2012.

It’s true that the flu shot isn’t 100% effective. In fact, the CDC says recent studies show the vaccine reduces the risk of flu illness by about 50% to 60% among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are like the vaccine viruses. When you think about how difficult it is to pin down a screaming and scared child for a shot it’s understandable why some parents might be inclined to pass on a flu shot that has only a 50-60% chance of working and just stick to lots of hand washing and avoiding indoor playgrounds during the winter. But even if the protection isn’t guaranteed, one small pinch from a needle may be worth it if it has the potential to prevent your child from having to suffer through the flu – or worse.