After Christy Pugh and her husband, Dave Splan, lost their 6-year-old daughter Emma to complications from the flu last year, they're taking every measure to remind parents how important it is to give your children the flu vaccine. Emma was one of the 185 children to pass away from the flu in the US during 2017 despite receiving her flu shot in October four months earlier. But according to the CDC, 80 percent of the pediatric flu deaths in 2017 occurred in children who didn't get a flu shot that season.
"Emma came home from school with a runny nose and a fever," Christy told POPSUGAR. "We had had plans to take her away that upcoming weekend to an indoor water park so we took her to the doctor to confirm if it was a cold or the flu."
Unfortunately, Emma's condition worsened. She began throwing up on Friday evening, so her parents took her back to the doctor for some antinausea medicine, which didn't alleviate her symptoms. Christy and Dave then took Emma to the pediatric emergency room at Stamford Hospital, where they spent the night.
"Even though the flu shot didn't work as intended for us, we still very much recommend that people consider it."
"[At Stamford Hospital] her condition didn't improve and appeared to get much worse," explained Christy. "The doctors then recommended that we transfer her to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Yale New Haven Hospital. We agreed to the transfer, and an ambulance took us to Yale. Once at Yale, Emma seemed to improve dramatically. She was sitting up and talking. She then coughed and died. They did CPR for 30 minutes before they called it."
According to Dr. E. Vincent Faustino — an associate professor of pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine and a member of Emma's care team — the 6-year-old had an inflamed heart as well as bleeding into the wall of her heart. The uncommon combination is what led to Emma's death.
"The bleeding into the wall of her heart was a very rare complication, so uncommon," Faustino told Today. "Emma was a healthy child, who tested positive for influenza B . . . Everyone needs to get the flu shot."
Although Christy and Dave lost their daughter to the flu despite vaccinations, they still believe parents should get their children vaccinated every year.
"Even though the flu shot didn't work as intended for us, we still very much recommend that people consider it," said Christy. "It's similar to how the majority of people wear a seat belt when getting in a car even though people die every day from car accidents, even while wearing their seat belts. You are doing all the things to ensure you have the odds in your favor. We recommend that those on the fence about whether to get a flu shot please talk to a medical professional, then make the right choice for their family."