Flu Fighters: Amber & Irelynd McCarthy
Meet Flu Fighters Amber and Irelynd McCarthy. This mother-daughter duo are board members for Families Fighting Flu (FFF), a nonprofit advocacy organization where they are committed to flu education and prevention.
Amber McCarthy is a board member of Families Fighting Fluexternal icon (FFF) and is also an RRT-registered respiratory therapist with a health coach certification and a master’s degree in health policy and management. Amber has served on the board of directors of FFF since 2019, but originally joined FFF in 2015 after the death of her 3-year-old daughter, Ayzlee. Amber, her husband Jim, and their two children, Irelynd and Easton, are active in their Iowa community fighting flu by volunteering at Ayzlee’s Family Flu Clinics, established in honor of their lost family member. The clinic’s mission is to ensure families can have access to flu vaccinations at no cost.
Irelynd McCarthy is a junior board member of Families Fighting Fluexternal icon (FFF) who attends Exira-EHK High School in Elk Horn, Iowa along with her older brother, Easton. She joined the nonprofit following in her mom, Amber McCarthy’s footsteps after she lost her sister, Ayzlee, to flu when Ayzlee was 3 years old. Irelynd’s actively fighting flu in her community in different ways, including volunteering at the Ayzlee’s Family Flu Clinic, where her family has made it their mission to give everyone in their community access to free flu vaccination. She also helps FFF with social media engagement and advocates for flu vaccination amongst her teenage peers. Fighting flu is how she keeps Ayzlee’s memory alive.
- Why is fighting flu important to you, and how has it impacted you personally?
Amber: Our daughter, Ayzlee, passed away from the flu at 3 years old. She was a typical, healthy 3-year-old little girl that succumbed to the flu within 48 hours from first symptoms. We fight flu for Ayzlee and to help other families not have to go through the same heartbreak from losing a family member.
- What would you say to others who are hesitant to get a flu vaccine?
Amber: Look at the stories on Families Fighting Flu’s website and see how the flu has impacted them, including our own. A simple flu vaccine each year can help to prevent these sad situations.
- What lead you to be involved in FFF
Amber: A past director had reached out to me after Ayzlee passed. We shared Ayzlee’s story, and I thought it was such an amazing organization. I was asked a few years ago to join the board, and my daughter, Irelynd, joined once they created the junior board. Everyone is out to make a difference and to bring awareness to flu illness and how deadly and life changing it can be.
- How are you taking a stance to fight flu?
Amber: I think by sharing Ayzlee’s story we are showing other families how important flu awareness is. It can happen to anyone! I sure didn’t think it would happen to our family, until it did. Getting my family vaccinated is a simple way to keep them and our community safe.