A 4-year-old boy from Colorado died on February 5 from the flu after his mother reportedly sought advice about natural home remedies in an anti-vax group on Facebook, according to NBC News.
“The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment can confirm that a preschool-aged child in southern Colorado has died of flu,” CDPHE wrote in a statement obtained by KKTV. “The death is the second pediatric flu death in Colorado this season. The department does not have any records that show whether the child was vaccinated against influenza.”
The mother gave an interview with KKTV where she expressed her heartbreak over her son who she called Najee or “Junior.” “He was the light of everybody’s day. … He’s full of joy, full of energy, has the most beautiful smile with his super deep dimples.”
The mother was part of a group named “Stop Mandatory Vaccination,” where she initially posted that her other sons, aged 10 months and five, had recently tested positive for the flu. She shared that a doctor prescribed Tamiflu to the family to contain the spread of the virus, but many commenters urged her against administering it. In the group she went on to say Najee had recently suffered a seizure and a 102-degree fever, but was not officially diagnosed with the flu.
With KKTV she shared that Najee started showing symptoms the Sunday prior, and died a few days after he tested positive for the flu.
Members suggested different treatments such as vitamin c, eating fruits and vegetables, and instructed the mother to plac sliced cucumbers and potatoes on the children’s foreheads.
NBC’s article pointed to the dangers of groups that spread anti-vaxxer information like “Stop Mandatory Vaccination,” which “previously spread conspiracies that outbreaks of preventable diseases are “hoaxes” perpetrated by the government, and use the groups to mass-contact parents whose children have died and suggest without evidence that vaccines may be to blame.” To date the group has over 178,000 members. The posts from Najee’s mother have been scrubbed from the account, according to NBC News.
Pediatric hospitalization rates are higher than normal this season resulting in 68 deaths according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I’m hurting so bad right now and so is his dad and brothers. Our whole family is hurting and it feels like we failed him because we did what we had to do,” the mother continued.