Laura Sidari, a doctor and mom, is encouraging parents to ensure their kids get the flu shot this year. In a heartbreaking Facebook post, Laura shared that her 4-year-old son Leon was one of the 180 children who tragically died from the flu last year.
"His smile was infectious, and his love for his brothers inspiring," she wrote. "Like roughly half of the children who die annually, he did not have a history of prior medical problems. His lungs were destroyed by bacterial pneumonia secondary to the flu. He died rapidly, only 2 days after showing general flu symptoms."
As a medical professional, Laura wasn't planning on skipping Leon's flu shot all together, she just wanted to put it off for a few weeks. "As a mother, I wish I had fully appreciated the risk of the flu to my healthy child," she said. "I had delayed his shot to align with a well-child visit later in the season, which he did not survive to attend."
"Holiday planning and fall festivities can wait, but the flu shot cannot."
She went on to explain that the benefits of getting your kids the flu shot greatly outweighs any risks. "It has been medically established that the flu shot reduces the risk of influenza-related mortality by 65 percent for healthy children," said Laura. "Of the children who die annually from flu-related complications, roughly 80 percent did not have their flu shot that season. It is the best option available to prevent child death due to the flu."
Now, Laura's going the extra mile to ensure that other parents get their children their shots on time.
"Leon is my reason this season, and every season, for getting flu shots on time," she said. "This is the best time of the year to get the shot. Holiday planning and fall festivities can wait, but the flu shot cannot. If Leon or another little person is your reason for getting the flu shot this year, I ask that you consider sharing a family photo and spreading the word so that others may know, too."
She also has a bit of advice for busy parents: hold each other accountable for getting your kids the shots sooner rather than later.
"Since losing Leon, I have encountered many other loving and responsible parents who have delayed or missed the flu shots for their children in previous seasons," Laura told POPSUGAR. "This has included other physician parents. It is a busy time of the year. There are multiple demands on our time and energy, especially as the holidays approach. Things like the flu shot can slip through the cracks. As parents, we need to support one another in sorting through these priorities."