Flu Fighter: Henry Lin
Meet flu fighter, Henry Lin, a retired Navy veteran and bariatric surgeon at Eastern Maine Medical Center, who lost his 7-year-old son, Trevor, to flu in November 2009 during the H1N1 pandemic. In Trevor’s honor, Henry shares his family’s story with others to help illustrate the potential dangers of flu and the importance of vaccination. He also is working with colleagues to help improve health care guidelines for treatment of children with flu in an effort to help prevent other families from experiencing a similar tragedy.
- How has flu impacted you personally? Why do you fight flu?
On Halloween in 2009, my previously healthy 7-year-old son, Trevor Ron Lin, developed a cough. Just three days later, he lost his life to H1N1 flu. I fight flu because I don’t want anyone else to lose their child or loved one to the flu.
- How do you fight flu?
I am also a practicing health care professional and I encourage my patients to receive an annual flu vaccination. In fact, there has only ever been one person who has still refused to vaccinate after they saw my tattoo of Trevor’s portrait on my arm. As a way to illustrate the burden of flu and honor my son, I have also shared his story with the Families Fighting Flu organization so that through their education and advocacy work, people can learn about the importance of flu prevention and treatment. I fight flu with the 3-step approach: annual vaccination on time, practice healthy habits (e.g., washing my hands), and taking influenza antiviral medications if indicated.
- What would you say to those who are hesitant about getting a flu vaccine?
I focus on sharing evidence-based information that supports the benefits of influenza vaccination and I fight against biases that are not supported by evidence. I think it’s important that people understand the disease burden of flu. We know flu vaccination can significantly reduce severe flu-related outcomes like hospitalizations and deaths.
- What do you want others to learn from your experience with flu?
I would like others to realize that even healthy children and adults can be severely impacted by a vaccine preventable disease like flu. I cannot bring my son back, but it is my wish that others would realize the potential dangers of flu and the critical importance of annual flu vaccination for everyone six months and older. As a result of sharing my experience with my alumni, flu vaccination rates amongst my classmates’ children have increased to greater than 99.5%.
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