By Mary Bubala

If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, it’s time. Last year’s H1N1 killed even healthy kids, and experts are warning that no one is immune. 

Mary Bubala talks with a mother whose child died after getting the flu. She has a message for everyone.

Jaylin Jennings died on Sept. 20, 2009.

“I started giving Jaylin CPR and I had 911 on speaker phone at the same time,” said Tamara Leak-Jones, mother of H1N1 victim. “Jaylin just basically died in my arms. I could not resuscitate him.”

The day after his funeral, doctors finally knew H1N1 killed him.

“It kills and it kills fast. This is not your normal everyday flu,” said Leak-Jones.

Now as we head into the 2010 flu season, state health officials are warning H1N1 will be a threat again.

“This flu goes to younger people, children in particular, who have not been vaccinated, and rarely, but significantly, can make some children very, very ill,” said Fran Phillips, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009 claimed 45 lives in Maryland, including Jaylin and four other seemingly healthy children like 17-year-old Walter Brooks and 14-year-old Destinee Parker.

“No child, daughter, sister, brother, grandmother, grandfather, whatever, needs to lose a child,” said Deirdre Parker, Destinee’s mom.

This flu season, Maryland’s medical community promises no long lines, no shortages and no panic.  There is also a single vaccine that protects against three strains of the flu, including H1N1.

“We have a safe and effective vaccine now and that’s why it’s so important, particularly for children, to get vaccinated, as well as for everyone in the whole community,” said Phillips.

Jaylin’s death was a terrible blow for a mother who prided herself on always getting her children vaccinated for the flu.

“I would never have imagined something as simple as the flu would have taken my son away from me,” said Leak-Jones.

Tamara can’t fathom anyone not getting the vaccine if it’s available.

“There’s a vaccination that will prevent someone from dying — not just being sick, but from dying from this illness — and I am here and he’s not,” said Leak-Jones.  “If I can save another family from going through the torture that I have endured for the last year, I just want to say please vaccinate your children.”

The CDC is out with new recommendations for flu immunizations this year.  It recommends everyone 6 months and older get the vaccine.


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