On January 12, 2011, previously healthy, athletic and strong 17-year-old Austin Booth woke up feeling ill. His mother gave him some medicine and he went to school. Austin made it through the day, but by basketball practice that afternoon he was sent home by his coach who could tell Austin was not feeling well. Austin’s parents thought that he might have the flu so they gave him some more medication and lots of fluids.
The next day, Austin stayed home from school. By mid-morning he had coughed up blood so his mother immediately called the doctor and brought him in to be seen right away. Once the doctor saw Austin he sent him immediately to the emergency room. Within a few hours Austin was placed on a ventilator to help him breath. That was the last time Austin was awake and the last time his mother spoke to him.
Austin was airlifted to St Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado. It was a fight for his life every second of every day from then on. Austin was strong, but he had what the doctors called “the perfect storm.” The flu progressed to pneumonia and Austin was also found to have MRSA. It was more than his body could fight.
On January 17, 2011, Austin died in the hospital with his parents and family at his side. Austin had not been vaccinated against the flu.
Austin’s parents wish they could rewind to before their nightmare began. The first thing they would do is get their children and themselves vaccinated against the flu. Now Austin’s mother is a flu vaccine advocate. She encourages all parents to teach their children everything they can do to help prevent spreading germs, like covering their mouth with a tissue when they sneeze or cough and washing their hands. But, most importantly, she encourages everyone to get vaccinated against the flu every year.
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