When Bethany Drapeau lost her four-year-old daughter Amiah to influenza in 2017, she knew she had to change her stance on flu prevention and treatment. Read her thoughts on awareness of flu prevention and why vaccination for children is so important.
Mediaplanet: Why is flu prevention awareness important to you?
Bethany Drapeau: Flu prevention awareness is extremely important to me because I’d never realized how fatal it could be until I lost my daughter. I lost Amiah when she was just four years old. She’d never had any health problems, so when the doctor told us that she’d come down with influenza B, I didn’t think it was the worst thing that could happen — it didn’t seem like it was a serious infection. I thought for sure she would get over it and bounce back to her high-spirited self, but I was so wrong. It was nine days after our first visit to the doctor that we’d lost our beautiful baby Amiah to the flu.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about influenza and the flu vaccine?
I believe that influenza is often taken too lightly. I think that more people should take care of themselves and their family when they’re sick. If you have flu-like symptoms, visit a doctor and get tested for the flu. If you do get sick, stay home from work — your health, and the health of those around you, is much more important. I also think that children should stay out of school or daycare when they’re sick to avoid spreading germs.
The best way to prevent the flu is to encourage hand washing, eat healthily, drink lots of water, and keep your home and workspace clean. Most importantly, it’s imperative that everyone get the flu vaccine because it’s known to significantly reduce the chances of hospitalization and death.
What was the biggest lesson you learned about influenza in your research and conversations?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that getting vaccinated plays a huge part in fighting off the flu. So many people who’ve lost their lives to the flu were healthy and took care of themselves. Many don’t get the flu vaccine because they think it doesn’t help or that it gives you the flu, but that’s certainly not the case. The flu is real, and it can hit anyone — no matter what age or health condition.
I strongly believe that the flu vaccine would have given my daughter a better chance at surviving, as she was not vaccinated prior to being infected with the flu. Like many other parents, I’m very protective of my children and will do anything for them. Having my family and myself vaccinated is now a continual responsibility and an honourable way to remember Amiah.