Flu Fighter: Serese Marotta
Meet flu fighter Serese Marotta, who has made it her life’s work to educate others about the dangers of flu and the importance of annual flu vaccination following the loss of her healthy five-year-old son, Joseph, to flu in October 2009 during the H1N1 pandemic. She currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Families Fighting Fluexternal icon, an organization dedicated to saving lives and reducing hospitalizations by protecting all children and their families against influenza. Through sharing her son’s story and her tireless work on behalf of the Families Fighting Flu organization, Serese hopes that others will realize that it’s not “just the flu”.
- How has flu impacted you personally? Why do you fight flu?
I lost my healthy, five-year-old son, Joseph, to flu in October 2009. Before that time, I never realized how serious flu could be or that it adversely impacts thousands of people every year, including healthy children and adults. I fight flu because I want to help prevent other families from experiencing a similar tragedy.
- How do you fight flu?
First and foremost, my entire family and I get a flu vaccine every year in an effort not only to protect ourselves, but also to help protect others we may come into contact with in our community. I believe annual flu vaccination is a way I can set an example and help protect public health. I also fight flu on a daily basis through my work as the Chief Operating Officer of Families Fighting Flu, a national non-profit organization dedicated to saving lives and reducing hospitalizations by protecting children, families, and communities against flu through education and advocacy work.
- What would you say to those who are hesitant about getting a flu vaccine?
We all want to protect ourselves and the people we love. As a parent, I understand that some people may have questions and/or concerns about flu vaccination and that’s okay. The goal is to make sure that their questions and concerns are addressed with factual, evidence-based information from reputable sources, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or an organization like Families Fighting Flu. And the sharing of stories like mine is important because it illustrates the true burden of this disease. This infectious disease is not “just the flu”; it robs families of their loved ones every year. And we know annual flu vaccination is our best defense against flu, including severe outcomes like hospitalization and death.
- What do you want others to learn from your experience with flu?
I never thought my healthy, five-year-old son would die from flu. I want others to understand that all of us are at risk when it comes to flu. The flu does not discriminate; it has the capacity to adversely affect any one of us, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, health status, or lifestyle. Every year in the U.S., there are thousands of people who are impacted by flu, including heartbreaking stories like mine. But the good news is that flu vaccines are widely available to us and we can all make the decision to fight flu by getting vaccinated. Annual flu vaccination truly has the ability to save a life, perhaps even the life of someone you love.
To read Joseph’s full story, visit www.familiesfightingflu.orgexternal icon.
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.