Flu Fighter: Jim Piette

Meet flu fighter Jim Piette, a woodworker, Midwestern dad and grandad. Fishing and hunting remained big parts of Jim’s life following his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) diagnosis, but everything changed when he got sick with flu. He was homebound for five weeks, didn’t eat because he couldn’t breathe, became extremely weak and lost 35 pounds. He always had trouble breathing, but now he can’t do much without running out of air. This is why Jim is working with the American Lung Association as a spokesperson for the MyShot campaignexternal icon, which educates adults 50 years of age and older about the potential complications from flu.

  1. How has flu impacted you personally? Why do you fight flu?I fight flu because I always think of the people who say, “take two of these and you’ll be better in the morning.” It doesn’t always work like that. To go from how active I was, to where I am now, I don’t think others would want that. If people saw me, most would say “I don’t want to be like him.”
    Before flu, I had chronic lung disease and I basically did anything I wanted to do with it still. It’s been two-and-a-half years since my bout with flu and I’m still trying to gain ground.
    For me, flu hit the weakest part of me – my lungs. And it was devastating. When I got flu, it was like somebody sitting on my chest. I couldn’t get air in or out. My wife would come in in the middle of the night and check to see if I was still alive. We finally said that’s enough, and we need to do something about this. So, we went to the emergency room.
  2. How do you fight flu?
    I fight flu by getting my flu vaccine every year and encouraging others to do the same to help protect themselves and help prevent the spread of flu. I’m also sharing my story as part of the American Lung Association’s MyShot campaignexternal icon, which provides information for older adults about the dangers of flu, and provides tools for finding a flu vaccine and talking to your health care provider about your flu vaccine options.
  3. What would you say to those who are hesitant about getting a flu vaccine?
    I was a woodworker. A midwestern dad and granddad. I mowed the lawn, went fishing, golfed, went dancing with my wife and hung out with the family. But after I got flu, my whole life changed. Now, I can’t do much without running out of air. Now, I know how important it is to get my flu vaccine. Don’t wait until you’re in my shoes. Get your flu vaccine. It’s the best way to help prevent complications from flu. A flu vaccine is especially important for older adults who have other chronic health conditions that can be made worse when you get flu.
  4. What do you want others to learn from your experience with flu?
    Get your flu vaccine. It’s worth the time and effort. Before flu, even though I had a serious lung disease, I was still active. Now, I’m on oxygen 24/7. Now, I can’t do much without running out of air. Now, I need my flu vaccine. Make your flu vaccine an annual priority as your best protection from flu.

Hear more about Jim’s story in a video from the American Lung Association

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The profiles featured on this website are provided for informational and educational purposes only. The information provided in these profiles reflect the opinions of the speakers only, and does not necessarily represent the position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services. No endorsement of the speakers by the U.S. Government should be inferred or implied.