For Becky Crane, 50, a sixth grade teacher in Coos Bay, the horror of 2020 began a month before the COVID-19 pandemic stuck.
On Feb. 17, her previously healthy son, Blake, 16, died after testing positive for influenza B.
Those who've fought Oregon's COVID-19 restrictions have often downplayed the risks of the coronavirus by likening it to flu. But plenty of families know there are real risks attached to influenza. Last flu season, an estimated 22,000 Americans died of it.
"Unfortunately, we are at all at risk from flu," says Serese Marotta, chief operating officer of the Virginia-based advocacy group Families Fighting Flu. "And we have a lot of stories like Becky's.…Simply put, vaccines save lives."
Flu season continues through March—an added risk atop the pandemic. This year, Crane organized a flu clinic through the Coos Bay School District for students. It vaccinated 200 children attending school via distance learning.
Crane told WW she wants to reach people who, like her, have a favorable view of vaccines but perhaps don't realize the stakes attached to an annual shot. In this video, she describes the night her son died.