After Losing Child to Flu, Metro Detroit Dad Urges Vaccination Against Flu, COVID

Amy Barczy

| 3 min read

Amy Barczy is a former brand journalist who authored content...

Zachary Yaksich is concerned about flu shot fatigue.
The metro Detroit father has made it his life’s mission to promote seasonal flu vaccines in memory of his five-year-old daughter Alana, who died due to complications from the flu in 2003. Yaksich founded Alana’s Foundation, which hosts flu vaccination clinics across the state.
But this fall, Yaksich said he’s heard from the clinics that people are wary of getting the flu shot – because they just got a COVID-19 vaccine.
Flu shots are needed each year for everyone age six months and older to build up the body’s immunity against the seasonal flu virus. September and October are good times to be vaccinated, but it is never too late to get a flu shot.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise it is safe to receive both COVID-19 and seasonal flu shots at the same time. Additionally, there’s no need to wait to get a flu shot after getting a COVID shot, and vice-versa. Both vaccines are necessary to prevent severe infections.
For Yaksich, this message is especially important.
“My goal is to prevent another family from losing a loved one from the flu, a vaccine-preventable disease,” Yaksich said.
Alana with father Zachary Yaksich and her brothers. (Courtesy of Alana's Foundation)
Many individuals don’t realize the flu can result in deadly complications. Yaksich knows because he used to be one of them.
In the case of his daughter, Alana, the flu wreaked havoc on the otherwise healthy five-year-old in a matter of 24 hours. She woke up with a low fever one Saturday, but after going to bed that night it had spiked to 106 degrees and she was vomiting. In the emergency room, they were unable to reduce her temperature. After moving to the pediatric ICU she had seizures and fell into a coma; suffering from swelling of the brain and placed on a ventilator. Doctors said there was nothing else they could do.
The flu vaccine has been approved for use in the general population since 1945. Findings from vaccine safety monitoring systems and studies show the body of scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports their safety.
It’s the best defense against the flu.
Throughout the U.S., pandemic precautions of social distancing, masking and staying home resulted in a flu season that much lower activity than average in 2020. Flu activity has continued to increase during 2021 and 2022, but at levels that were still below that of an average flu season. However, the beginning of the 2022-2023 flu season has resulted in an increase in cases that health officials are monitoring closely – along with other respiratory illnesses including RSV.
Yaksich is concerned that people have forgotten about the flu due to the heightened concerns about COVID-19 during the past two years.
It’s never too late to get the flu shot.
Photo credits: Courtesy of Alana's Foundation
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