Docs’ son died 10 days earlier than flu shot appointment. Now, they wish to save your baby


Drs. Laura and Anthony Sidari’s 4-year-old son, Leon, didn’t get the flu vaccine final yr. He died on Christmas Day, lower than 48 hours after he began feeling sick.

“I did not know a situation might kill a toddler that shortly who had been beforehand wholesome,” mentioned Laura, a psychiatrist. “This has been a tough haul for us, and we’re very non-public individuals, however we’re attempting to assist different households.”

Roughly 80% of these youngsters had not obtained a flu shot, in accordance with the CDC.
Laura and Anthony, a rheumatologist, had needed to get Leon and his 2-year-old brother flu photographs at a pharmacy. They lived in Texas, the place state law prohibits pharmacists from vaccinating anybody beneath the age of seven.
The Sidaris with sons Cameron and Tristan after getting flu shots this fall.

The couple, busy with their new child third baby, Cameron, determined to get Leon a flu shot once they have been going to the pediatrician anyway: when 2-year-old Tristan had his annual go to, scheduled for January 3.

Leon died 10 days earlier than that appointment.

“It wasn’t even on my radar as one thing that I actually, actually wanted to prioritize,” Laura mentioned. “It simply slipped via the cracks.”

The Sidaris’ story is all too acquainted to Dr. Flor Muñoz.

For 20 years, Muñoz, a pediatric infectious illness specialist at Texas Kids’s Hospital, has labored with the American Academy of Pediatrics to extend the speed of flu vaccination for kids.

The charges aren’t nice: Solely 47.8% of youngsters 6 months to 17 years outdated have had a flu shot within the earlier yr, in accordance with the CDC, which recommends that everybody over 6 months get a flu shot.

The issue: Although adults can get flu photographs at pharmacies and even at work, youngsters haven’t got as many choices.

Leon Sidari died 10 days before his flu shot appointment.

In most states, there are limits or outright bans on pharmacists vaccinating youngsters, and flu vaccine clinics at colleges are the exception somewhat than the rule.

Solely 13 states permit pharmacists to vaccinate youngsters of any age, in accordance with the National Association of State Pharmacy Associations.

“It is irritating. It looks as if we do not be taught,” Muñoz mentioned.

There is not any medical cause youngsters should not get flu photographs at a pharmacy, mentioned Muñoz, who can be an affiliate professor of pediatrics at Baylor Faculty of Medication.

Some states are altering their legal guidelines. New York used to bar pharmacists from giving flu photographs to anybody beneath 18. This yr, after the historic flu season, the state modified its legal guidelines to allow vaccination for anybody 2 or older.

“Good for you, New York!” Muñoz mentioned. “Extra ought to be carried out to make this occur in different states. There ought to be extra of a push.”

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious illness specialist at Vanderbilt College Medical Heart, mentioned extra must also be carried out to make it simpler for native well being departments to supply flu shot clinics. Proper now, he mentioned, it is tough for these departments to buy massive portions of vaccine and to invoice insurance coverage.

“We have to do extra to make it straightforward,” he mentioned.

The Sidaris are doing their half. Final month, they sponsored a “Say Boo to the Flu” occasion of their hometown, Albion, New York, the place 59 youngsters have been vaccinated.

Though the CDC encourages flu vaccines by the tip of October every year, it is particularly necessary to get the shot effectively earlier than the vacations, Muñoz mentioned. Flu exercise can peak in December, and vacation get-togethers could make the virus unfold extra shortly. It takes about two weeks for the shot to develop into efficient after you obtain it.

“Leon is my cause this season, and each season, for getting flu photographs on time,” Laura Sidari wrote on her Facebook web page. “Vacation planning and fall festivities can wait, however the flu shot can’t.”

CNN’s John Bonifield and Debra Goldschmidt contributed to this story.

Correction: A earlier model of this story incorrectly acknowledged the place the Sidaris lived final yr.

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