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Survivor Family Story: Katie Miller

Posted on November 13, 2023
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Katie Miller was only 9 years old when she almost lost her younger sister, Caroline, to the flu. She recalls getting a call from her mother at middle school at the time telling her to pack a bag to go visit her sister at the hospital where she was expected to pass away.

Although her family thought she just had a common cold, Katie’s sister had developed the flu, and with it, pneumonia in both lungs that required being put on an oscillating ventilator. 

“Those were some of the scariest days for our family,” says Katie. “Fortunately, thanks to the amazing medical professionals who cared for her, Caroline ended up surviving and made a full recovery. Even though my sister recovered, I don’t want anyone else to go through what we went through.”

Flu Illness Is Severe but Prevention is Key

Now as an adult, Katie and her entire family promote the importance of getting vaccinated to protect themselves and others from flu. She is a junior board member with Families Fighting Flu and a vocal advocate for flu prevention because despite what people think, she says, flu can escalate so quickly. 

“There is always a risk of not getting vaccinated and ending up in a scary situation, like what my family experienced when my sister was hospitalized with flu,” she says. “It’s important to understand how severe the flu can be and how the vaccine can protect you, your family, and your friends so that they won’t end up in a situation like my sister.”

Educating Others About Flu Prevention

Katie’s passion for educating others on the seriousness of the flu virus extends to both friends and family. Her grandfather recently became immunocompromised due to multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer that develops from plasma cells in the bone marrow. As a retired pharmacist, he told Katie he has always relied on people in the science and medical fields for information on how to stay healthy and protect oneself. The flu is no different, he says, and so now more importantly than ever he makes sure to get his flu shot each season.

“We usually go right over to Publix and get in early before everyone starts making appointments later in the season.”

Closer to home in Katie’s immediate household, her parents and sister all get vaccinated at the beginning of the school year to ensure protection even in the early stages of flu season.

“Being vaccinated has always been incredibly important but it takes on a whole new meaning this year,” Katies says. “It means we won’t have to miss out on spending valuable time with our grandfather.” 

Take the Next Step This Flu Season

Katie’s sister recovered from the flu, but far too often, other families lose their loved ones due the devastating effects of a very serious illness. Every year, otherwise healthy individuals of all ages suffer complications from influenza viruses that result in hospitalization and even death. As we get into the 2023-2024 flu season, we all must do our part to prevent the flu by getting a flu vaccine every year.

Check out our guide to How to Prepare for the Next Flu Season, learn more about the flu vaccine here, and most importantly, get your flu vaccine early this season. 

Remember, getting vaccinated not only helps protect you but also protects others you may come into contact with, including vulnerable populations like young children, people dealing with chronic illness, and elders with compromised immune systems. Walk-in flu vaccines are available at most national pharmacies, including big box department stores and warehouse clubs.

Learn More About Fighting the Flu

Families Fighting Flu educates about the seriousness of influenza and the importance of annual vaccination. We imagine a world in which no one suffers serious flu complications or death. Learn more about our mission and resources here and empower your family to stay healthy this flu season.


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