Mom warns parents not to take flu lightly after daughter's death

TACOMA, Washington (KTRK) -- Flu season is about to peak in some parts of the country, but there's still time to get some protection with a flu shot.

A Washington mother is sharing her story of how fast the virus can kill a loved one.

Rebecca Hendricks lost her daughter Scarlet to the flu a few years ago.

"January comes and it's like the peak of the season is coming," Hendricks said.

Fours years ago, Hendricks received a call from her daughter's school, advising her that she was ill.

"She had a pretty high fever, it was 103. I brought her home and gave her some Tylenol and stuck her on the couch with some tea and put a movie on," Hendricks said.

The next day, Hendricks said she went about her errands like normal.

"It's amazing how strong kids can be or present themselves to be," she said.

Her daughter's fever seemed to taper off with more medicine, but after a nap on the couch things seemed to be wrong.

"She fell asleep really fast, and she started making this really strange breathing noise. She just kind of opened her eyes but she looked past me, like through me and I was terrified. I just said, 'Whoa, I have to take you to the hospital,'" Hendricks said.

Within hours of arriving at the hospital, Scarlet died from respiratory failure caused by the flu.

"When I walked in there I thought I was going to walk out with some medicine. I had no idea that I was going to walk out without her," Hendricks told KCPQ.

Now, doctors are warning of the danger. Dr. John Lynch says about one in three people get the flu vaccine each year.

"It takes two weeks for the vaccine to kick in and provide some protection," Lynch said.

He says older adults and children who have severe symptoms like a high fever should be taken to the hospital.

"Don't be worried about being overreactive. I mean, you're talking about life and death," Hendricks said.
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