November 6, 2013

Flu story featuring Jacob

story_sharonMy son, Jacob Ryan Schmidt of Baytown, TX, was a semi-pro competitive martial arts expert, strong as a bull, and enjoying life as a family man. In April of 2010, at the age of 27, he succumbed to complications from H1N1 influenza. He had not been vaccinated against the illness.

Jacob was not someone you’d expect to fall ill to influenza. He was healthy and athletic, and built like a freight train. He was a leader and a fighter. Surely, he had the fortitude and strength in him to beat the disease. I was confident that he would recover.

The disease took a heavy and rapid toll. His lungs collapsed; he developed an infection. His organs were shutting down. After about five weeks of influenza ravaging his body, Jacob died.

He had a bright future ahead, snuffed out by influenza. It hurts to know he could have been vaccinated, but wasn’t. I hadn’t been vaccinated either, nor was my 18-year-old son, but after visiting Jacob in the intensive care unit, my son and I both got vaccinated.

Talk to your doctor before this happens. I wish Jacob had.

Thank you to Sharon for sharing her story about how she lost her son to this vaccine-preventable disease, part of the NFID “Real Stories, Real People” series. To share your own personal story, visit

Learn more about increasing US influenza vaccination rates and the NFID initiative “Leading By Example.”

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