Flu Fighter: Bethany Drapeau
Meet flu fighter Bethany Drapeau from Wagner, South Dakota, who lost her young daughter, Amiah, to flu in April 2017. Amiah was not vaccinated against flu and Bethany now realizes that annual flu vaccination can significantly reduce a child’s chance of flu-related hospitalization and death. She now makes a point to educate her family, friends, and community about the seriousness of flu and the critical importance of annual flu vaccination for everyone, including healthy children and adults.
- How has flu impacted you personally? Why do you fight flu?
Flu has made a huge impact on my family. I never took flu seriously until my four-year-old daughter, Amiah, was diagnosed with influenza B and then lost her life to it. Amiah was previously healthy, but she developed flu-related complications including kidney failure, pneumonia, and sepsis, all of which proved too much for her little body to handle.
- How do you fight flu?
I fight flu by getting an annual flu vaccine, and also by having my husband and other children get their annual flu vaccine as well. We also fight flu by washing our hands as much as possible throughout the day, especially during flu season, and keeping our living areas clean. I know annual flu vaccination is our best defense against flu and practicing healthy habits is also important for flu prevention.
- What would you say to those who are hesitant about getting a flu vaccine?
I would tell them that I regret not getting my daughter her annual flu vaccine. I’d tell them my daughter’s story – about how she was a healthy, active four-year-old and when she got flu her body could not fight it off. I’d tell them that my daughter would have had a better chance at fighting off flu if she had received an annual flu vaccine. Amiah just might still be here if she had been vaccinated. And that’s something that I’ll live with for the rest of my life.
- What do you want others to learn from your experience with flu?
I want others to learn not to take flu lightly. Flu is not just a bad cold – it’s a serious disease. Flu can be deadly and by getting vaccinated we can help protect ourselves, our families, and our communities. Receiving an annual flu vaccine can increase your chance of fighting off flu if you are exposed and avoiding severe flu-related outcomes like hospitalization and even death.
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