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Family Stories

The Hunt Family

FFF Advocate:
Florence Diana Hunt (mother)
Place of Residence:
Queensbury, NY
Date of Death:
March 7, 1979
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Amy Anderson

Amy lost her life to secondary complications caused by the influenza virus. She had not been vaccinated because it was not recommended by her family’s doctor. 

On the morning of March 3rd, six-year-old Amy Anderson awoke not feeling well and her mother, Flo, sent her back to bed to rest. A little while later, Flo went to wake Amy and found her still very lethargic, but managed to get her out of bed and moved to the living room couch where Amy continued to rest. A short time later Flo noticed that Amy’s pupils were dilated. After consulting with nearby family members, Flo decided that Amy needed medical attention and immediately drove her to the local hospital.

Upon arrival at the hospital, the emergency room staff immediately took Amy into a room for examination. After being examined by a pediatrician in the hospital, Amy was diagnosed with Reye’s syndrome, which the doctor had explained was brought on by influenza that had recently made its way through the family household. Amy was in an advanced stage of Reye’s syndrome, which the pediatrician explained to Flo can be fatal. Amy was then transferred via ambulance to a larger hospital in the region in hopes that she could receive advanced treatment there.

Upon arrival at the second hospital, Amy was immediately admitted to their pediatric intensive care unit. The doctors told Flo and her husband, Amy’s father, that there was nothing more they could do for Amy. At the doctors’ urging, Amy’s parents went home to get some rest and wait for news from the hospital.

The next morning, the hospital called Flo and her husband to say that Amy had gone into cardiac arrest and was currently stabilized, but on a respirator. Amy’s parents immediately returned to the hospital. Upon arriving, they found Amy hooked up to all kinds of machines trying to keep her alive. It was a very difficult sight. Later that evening, Amy went into cardiac arrest for a second time, rendering Amy comatose with no brain activity. Flo and her husband were forced to make a decision that no parent should have to – the decision to let go of their precious, six-year-old daughter. Amy passed away on March 7, 1979 with her parents by her bedside.

Amy and her family were not vaccinated against the flu the year Amy died because their doctors had not recommended the flu vaccine. This was compounded by the fact that there were public concerns about the safety of the flu vaccine that year, which later were attributed to mass amounts of misinformation resulting from the previous year’s flu season. Flo and her family now advocate for flu awareness and annual vaccination in hopes that no other family has to experience a tragedy similar to theirs.

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