A Happy, Healthy 5-Year-Old Daughter Lost to the Flu

Scarlet was a happy, healthy 5-year-old who loved to sing and dance. On December 17, 2014, the school nurse called to say that Scarlet had a fever and needed to go home. I picked Scarlet up, gave her some Tylenol, and we curled up on the couch to watch movies.

I continued treating Scarlet for what I thought were cold symptoms. Two days later, I noticed that Scarlet’s breathing was labored and raspy. We went to the local hospital, where the doctors had trouble keeping her stable. Within a few hours, Scarlet’s condition worsened and a mere four hours after our arrival at the hospital, she had passed away. The Medical Examiner’s office later told me that Scarlet had died from the H3N2 strain of influenza. Scarlet had not been vaccinated against the flu; she was the first of 148 children who died from the flu in the 2014-2015 season.

I was not aware that influenza could be so dangerous– even deadly – to an otherwise healthy child. I thought it was no big deal. Now, however, I have learned the dangers and early warning signs of flu symptoms in children, and I understand that vaccination is the best preventative measure we have against the flu. I am now an active advocate for annual flu vaccinations. 

Rebecca Hendricks
Mother of Scarlet
Tacoma, WA