Julie shares the story of her infant son, Ian, who lost his life to influenza (flu) at just six months old.


Place of Residence: Iowa City, Iowa

At two-years-old, JJ was a happy, funny, and energetic child who loved animals, gymnastics, books, and spending time with family and friends. He and his parents traveled often. Sadly, although he was a healthy child, JJ lost his life to flu in February 2020 just 10 hours after first showing symptoms. Some of his mother’s favorite memories of JJ are reading books together at bedtime and holding hands while he was falling asleep.

JJ’s mother, Maurine, shares the story of how she lost her two-year-old son to flu.



Place of Residence: Louisville, Kentucky

Brent’s father, Jeb, describes his son as a real “go getter” who loved the culinary arts and music. As a healthy 29-year-old, Brent was not considered to be high-risk for flu – yet he lost his life just a week after getting sick.

As a pediatrician, Jeb knows the importance of annual flu vaccination and the power of prevention. Now his mission is to raise awareness to help prevent other families from having a similar experience.

Brent’s father, Jeb, shares the story of how his 29-year-old son lost his life to flu on November 3, 2019.


Place of Residence: Lake Worth, Florida

As a healthy football mom of two with a busy career and home life, Mindy never imagined that flu would sideline her from the things she loved. Yet in October 2019, at age 47, Mindy found herself hospitalized and fighting to stay alive after being diagnosed with flu and pneumonia. She spent 28 days on life support and underwent intensive rehabilitation, but thankfully survived. Now she wants others to know that even healthy adults can fall victim to flu and associated complications.

Mindy shares the story of how she narrowly survived a life-threatening flu illness.


Place of Residence: Newport News, Virginia

Madison was a magical, eight-year-old little girl who loved to play constantly, make new friends, and watch Disney movies. Her favorite movies were Disney’s Frozen and Trolls, and she loved the color pink. She lit up every room she walked into and she always seemed to have a smile on her face.

Sadly, Madison lost her life to flu in February 2020 just two days after being diagnosed with influenza A (H1N1), which also led to pneumonia and sepsis. Her mother, Jennifer, misses Madison’s radiant smile, her laugh, and her hugs and kisses.

Madison’s mother, Jennifer, shares the story of how she lost her eight-year-old daughter to flu.


Joseph Marotta was only five-years-old when he lost his life to influenza (flu). After losing Joseph, his mother Serese became an active parent advocate in hopes of preventing others from losing a child to a vaccine-preventable disease.

Serese shares Joseph’s story below in her own words.

As parents, we do everything we can to protect our children. We buckle them into their car seats, make them wear their bike helmets, hold their hand while crossing the street, and even get them their recommended childhood vaccinations. But what about getting our kids the flu vaccine?


Marcelina’s story as told by her sister Angelina.


Luke Duvall, a healthy, athletic 15-year-old, was exhausted on the evening of October 2, 2009 but geared up and played in his high school football game anyway. The next day he awoke feeling worse, and by Sunday, he had a fever of 104.3 degrees. His parents worried that he was suffering from H1N1 influenza (flu), as the country was in the midst of a massive outbreak.

Luke’s fever continued through Monday, and when his father took him to the medical clinic, Luke’s parents fears were confirmed when he was diagnosed with the flu. He was sent home to rest and was given diarrhea and nausea medicine.

One important thing that the doctor overlooked was that Luke’s lung was filling up with mucus.

The next day Luke began spitting up blood and had great difficulty breathing. He was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. With his lung packed with bloody mucus, Luke was kept in the ICU in critical condition. The following morning Luke was MedEvaced to Arkansas Children’s Hospital for more intensive care. Luke was tested and eventually diagnosed with H1N1.

Luke could not breathe without a ventilator and remained in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit for days.

The doctors induced a coma so that he would remain unconscious and not have to bear the pain and discomfort of the ventilator. His condition would improve and then worsen again, a cycle that was very difficult for his parents to witness.

After a week, Luke suffered a serious setback. The doctors called in his family and his mother fell on her knees to pray for his life. From that point forward, Luke improved as his lungs got better and his blood pressure stayed normal. Luke came out of his coma after 12 days but a tube remained in his throat for the next five days. He was extubated on October 24 and entered rehab four days later in order to regain his basic living skills.

One month after the onset of H1N1, Luke returned home 36 pounds lighter and substantially weaker.

Thanks to the support of his family, doctors and rehabilitation workers, Luke returned to school and continued to get stronger. He even geared up for the baseball season.

While Luke has his health back, he continues to think about the young children he witnessed suffering from H1N1 in the hospital, some of who didn’t make it out alive. He wonders how different things would have played out if he and the others in the hospital had been vaccinated against H1N1.

After seeing Luke’s story on CBS Sixty Minutes (below), Vaccinate Your Family, reached out to his parents to ask that they help raise awareness about the importance of the influenza vaccine. Since then Luke and his entire family have become outspoken advocates.

Luke’s Story in his own words:


Even with all our modern medicine, I watched my sister die from flu.

In December, 2009 my sister Liza died of influenza. She was previously healthy and only 49 years old. She sought medical care early. She was cared for at a good hospital in a major city. She had no other infections. And she was unvaccinated.

To say I was surprised is an understatement. And yet, I’m a pediatric intensive care physician.


Courtesy of ShotbyShot.org