Mom who lost daughter to flu warns others

The girl died a day after coming home from school with a high fever

Mom who lost daughter to flu warns others
Her little girl died of respiratory failure from the flu - just a day after coming home from school with a fever.

TACOMA, WA (KCPQ/CNN) - Flu season is about to peak in some parts of the country, but there’s still time to get some protection with a flu shot.

One mother shares her story of how fast the disease can kill a loved one.

“January comes and it’s like the peak of the season is coming,” Rebecca Hendricks said.

This time of year is about looking back for Hendricks.

“She was a singer and a dancer and a little diva,” she said.

Pictures of her 5-year-old daughter Scarlet are displayed all over the house.

“I was kind of hearing a little bit about flu on the news and stuff, but I didn’t really pay attention to it,” Hendricks said.

Four years ago, Hendricks got a call to come pick up Scarlet from school.

“She had a pretty high fever, it was 103. Brought her home and gave her some Tylenol and stuck her on the couch with some tea and put a movie on,” she said.

The next day, they went about errands like normal.

13 children dead from flu so far this season, CDC says

“It’s amazing how strong kids can be or present themselves to be,” Hendricks said.

Scarlet’s fever seemed to taper with more medicine, but something disturbing happened after a nap on the couch.

“She fell asleep really fast, and she started making this really strange breathing noise," Hendricks said. "She just kind of opened her eyes but she looked past me, like through me, and I was terrified. I just said, ‘Whoa, I have to take you to the hospital.’”

The girl died within hours of arriving at the hospital.

“When I walked in there, I thought I was going to walk out with some medicine," Hendricks said. "I had no idea that I was going to walk out without her. She died from respiratory failure caused by the H3N2 flu.”

Flu activity in Washington state has already started to peak, and doctors said they’re seeing an increase in patients presenting with symptoms.

“Started probably trickles of one to two cases, now we’re seeing five or six cases per day in the emergency department,” Dr. John Lynch said.

He said about one in three people get the flu vaccine, and it’s not too late to get your flu shot.

“It takes about two weeks for vaccine to kick in, provide some protection. We’re still early in the season, but we’re probably looking at a peak in the next two to three weeks,” Lynch said.

He said older adults and children who have severe symptoms like a high fever should be brought in to the hospital.

It’s something Hendricks said not to ignore.

“Don’t be worried about being overreactive, I mean you’re talking about life and death,” she said.

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