LOCAL NEWS

Doctors’ Son Died 10 Days Before Flu Shot Appointment Now, They Want To Save Your Child

Nov 3, 2018, 1:01 AM | Updated: 1:02 am
Four-year-old Leon Sidari died of the flu last year, just 10 days before he was scheduled to get va...
Four-year-old Leon Sidari died of the flu last year, just 10 days before he was scheduled to get vaccinated.

Drs. Laura and Anthony Sidari’s 4-year-old son, Leon, did not get the flu vaccine last year. He died on Christmas Day, less than 48 hours after he started feeling sick.

“I didn’t know a condition could kill a child that quickly who had been previously healthy,” said Laura, a psychiatrist. “This has been a hard haul for us, and we’re very private people, but we’re trying to help other families.”

Leon was one of 185 US children who died in the 2017-18 flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — a historic high.

Approximately 80% of those children had not received a flu shot, according to the CDC.

Laura and Anthony, a rheumatologist, had wanted to get Leon and his 2-year-old brother flu shots at a pharmacy. They lived in Texas, where state law prohibits pharmacists from vaccinating anyone under the age of 7.

The couple, busy with their newborn third child, Cameron, decided to get Leon a flu shot when they were going to the pediatrician anyway: when 2-year-old Tristan had his annual visit, scheduled for January 3.

Leon died 10 days before that appointment.

“It wasn’t even on my radar as something that I really, really needed to prioritize,” Laura said. “It just slipped through the cracks.”

The Sidaris’ story is all too familiar to Dr. Flor Muñoz.

For 20 years, Muñoz, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital, has worked with the American Academy of Pediatrics to increase the rate of flu vaccination for children.

The rates aren’t great: Only 47.8% of children 6 months to 17 years old have had a flu shot in the previous year, according to the CDC, which recommends that everyone over 6 months get a flu shot.

The problem: Though adults can get flu shots at pharmacies or even at work, children don’t have as many options.

In most states, there are limits or outright bans on pharmacists vaccinating children, and flu vaccine clinics at schools are the exception rather than the rule.

Only 13 states allow pharmacists to vaccinate children of any age, according to the National Association of State Pharmacy Associations.

“It’s frustrating. It seems like we don’t learn,” Muñoz said.

There’s no medical reason children shouldn’t get flu shots at a pharmacy, said Muñoz, who is also an associate professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine.

Some states are changing their laws. New York used to bar pharmacists from giving flu shots to anyone under 18. This year, after the historic flu season, the state changed its laws to permit vaccination for anyone 2 or older.

“Good for you, New York!” Muñoz said. “More should be done to make this happen in other states. There should be more of a push.”

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said more should also be done to make it easier for local health departments to offer flu shot clinics. Right now, he said, it’s difficult for those departments to purchase large quantities of vaccine and to bill insurance.

“We need to do more to make it easy,” he said.

The Sidaris are doing their part. Last month, they sponsored a “Say Boo to the Flu” event in their hometown, Albion, New York, where 59 children were vaccinated.

Although the CDC encourages flu vaccines by the end of October each year, it’s especially important to get the shot well before the holidays, Muñoz said. Flu activity can peak in December, and holiday get-togethers can make the virus spread more quickly. It takes about two weeks for the shot to become effective after you receive it.

“Leon is my reason this season, and every season, for getting flu shots on time,” Laura Sidari wrote on her Facebook page. “Holiday planning and fall festivities can wait, but the flu shot cannot.”

CNN’s John Bonifield and Debra Goldschmidt contributed to this story.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

...
Ladd Egan

Utah consumer sentiment falls in June; national survey falls to lowest level in 70 years

Frustrations over inflation sent consumer confidence in Utah and across the nation to new lows in June, according to surveys from the University of Utah
19 hours ago
FILE PHOTO - Shown are a smartphone and computer....
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Why you should stop using your work computers, phones for personal use

Many Utahns are still working from home, spending a lot of time on their work computers. That can make it easy to forget it's not a personal computer. But KSL's Matt Gephardt has three reasons why you should use your work computers for one thing — work.
19 hours ago
...
Jed Boal

‘Resist Death’: UHP campaign urges Utahns to curb DUI deaths

Troopers are urging all Utahns to “resist death” and make good choices before they get behind the wheel as the state sees another annual increase in DUI-related deaths ahead of Independence Day.
19 hours ago
...
Eliza Pace

Husband of Bluffdale mayor charged with assault, stalking, threats to opponent

Jason C. Hall, the spouse of current Bluffdale Mayor Natalie Hall, was charged with multiple counts related to threats against Bluffdale City councilman Jeff Gaston.
19 hours ago
Fourteen Utah law enforcement agencies are working dozens of extra shifts to catch speeders, drunk ...
Cary J. Schwanitz, KSL TV

Hundreds of extra patrols swarm Utah highways to make holiday weekend travel safer

Thursday kicked off the 4th of July holiday weekend and 90% of Americans traveling this weekend are doing so on the roads.
19 hours ago
(Courtesy: Hogle Zoo)...
Eliza Pace

New red panda joins Hogle Zoo

Utah's Hogle Zoo welcomed a new resident this week: a four-year-old female red panda, named Priya. 
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Doctors’ Son Died 10 Days Before Flu Shot Appointment Now, They Want To Save Your Child