Family stresses flu protection after loss of son

NewsChannel 9 sat down with a local family who lost their young son to the H1N1 pandemic in 2009.
Liverpool (WSYR-TV) - With four Central New Yorkers already dead from flu-related complications and with the season's peak still weeks away, the message to get vaccinated is now stronger than ever.

All of the local victims had the H1N1 strain of the flu, which is targeting children and young to middle-aged adults around the nation.

None of them received the shot or the flu mist.

NewsChannel 9 sat down with a local family who lost their young son to the H1N1 pandemic in 2009.

Serese Marotta says her son Joseph was a happy, healthy 5 year old. In October 2009, he got sick on the school bus.

Marotta brought him to Urgent Care and they sent him to a children's hospital in Springboro, Ohio, where they were living at the time.

“All the tests for the flu were coming back negative. It wasn't until several days into his hospital stay they finally came back and said ‘yes he has the flu and its H1N1,” she said.

Marotta was shocked. Joseph had received the seasonal flu vaccine the month before, but his vaccine did not include H1N1 protection

“It was a Sunday morning and he suddenly coded," Marotta recalled. "They worked for 35 minutes and couldn't revive him. And after the fact found out it was due to the flu."

Marotta says she still meets people everyday who don't get vaccinated. They say they're healthy and don't need it. That's when she shares with them Joseph's story and encourages everyone to go to their local pharmacy and get vaccinated.

“I never would have dreamed in a million years that I would lose a child to the flu,” she said.

Instead of grieving, Marotta says she and her husband wanted to make a difference. That's why they joined “Families Fighting Flu,” a national non-profit with one goal.

“Outreach, just getting the message out there, how important it is that people get vaccinated every year,” Marotta said.

Families Fighting Flu says about 100 American children die every year from the flu.

Flu vaccinations are still available at local pharmacies and this year's vaccine does include protection against the H1N1 virus, which has been the dominant strain this season, according to health officials.

Click here for more information on Families Fighting Flu.

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