May 18, 2022

Brent's Story Flu

Brent was a vibrant and healthy 29-year-old chef with a bright future ahead of him when he became ill. In late October 2019, Brent was exposed to someone who had influenza (flu)-like symptoms. Two days later, he came down with flu-like symptoms. His dad, who is a pediatrician, and mom, who is a nurse, were out of town at the time. Had they been aware, they would have insisted on treating Brent with antivirals during the first 48 hours of his illness.

On Brent’s fifth day of feeling sick, he called his parents to say that he still had a fever and was having difficulty breathing. They urged him to seek medical care immediately. Brent returned home from the urgent care and went to sleep. Just four hours later, he died as a result of flu-related complications, including pneumonia which affected both of his lungs. Despite reminders from his parents, Brent had not yet received an annual flu vaccine that season. Getting vaccinated had been on Brent’s to-do list, but life got busy and he didn’t prioritize it.

As a way to honor Brent, his parents requested that in lieu of flowers or donations at his funeral, people get vaccinated against flu. This request started a movement of people posting pictures of themselves getting vaccinated using #4Brent, and this movement continues.

Brent’s death demonstrates that flu does not discriminate. While people may typically associate flu-related deaths with people who are older and suffer from chronic conditions, Brent did not have any of these risk factors. His parents share his story to educate others that flu should not be taken lightly and to illustrate the importance of annual flu vaccination for everyone age six months and older.

It’s not “just the flu.” Brent’s outcome would have been much different had he been vaccinated.


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