Well-Being Prevention & Cures

Anti-vaxxers on Facebook recommend “natural” flu remedies. Days later, a boy dies.

a person receiving a flu vaccine

Story at a glance

  • A mother on the Facebook group named “Stop Mandatory Vaccination” asked for alternatives to Tamiflu for her children, who had been diagnosed with the flu.
  • None of the children had been vaccinated against the flu.
  • Her 4-year-old son has now become the second child in Colorado to die from the flu this season.

A four-year-old Colorado boy has died from the flu days after his mother posted on Facebook asking for alternatives to Tamiflu, an antiviral medicine prescribed by their doctor. 

The post on the anti-vaccine Facebook group “Stop Mandatory Vaccination” has since been deleted, but screenshots were posted online after NBC News first reported the story

In her post on Jan. 31, the mother of four said the doctor had prescribed Tamiflu for her and her two other children after her 5-year-old and 10-month-old children both tested positive for the flu. She did not fill the prescription. Describing the symptoms of her two sick children, neither of whom had been vaccinated against the flu, she asked for “natural”  remedies. Another member of the group replied, saying, “you’re better off taking Vitamin D and C, Elderberry, Zinc, and eating lots of fruits and vegetables.” None of the 45 comments suggested medical attention, according to NBC News.

Five days later, her 4-year-old son Najee Jr., who went by “Junior,” died due to the flu. 

“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,” she told KKTV

The four year old was airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Colorado Springs, where he was held in the PICU, according to a GoFundMe fundraiser set up by the family. On Feb. 6, the family posted an update saying he was taken off of life support and died. By next afternoon, donors had given $9,035 of the initial $10,000 goal. 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which confirmed his death, said they had no records showing whether Najee was vaccinated against the flu. He is the second child to die from the flu in Colorado this flu season. The department encourages anyone who has not been vaccinated to get the flu shot, as the flu season is not over. 

“While flu is circulating, it is not too late to get a flu shot, and we recommend everyone ages six months and older who has not had the yearly vaccine, get it,” CDPHE told KKTV. “Children who are younger than 9 years who are getting the flu vaccine for the first time, and those under 9 who have only previously gotten one dose of the vaccine, should get two doses of the vaccine. The first dose should be given as soon as the vaccine becomes available. The second dose should be given at least 28 days after the first dose.”

At least 8,200 people have died from the flu in the United States this season, including 54 children. But while research shows that flu vaccines are both effective and safe, there are still those who claim otherwise. 

Facebook has made efforts to reduce the visibility of vaccine misinformation and direct users searching for information on vaccines to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website. Still, the social media giant has not banned misinformation entirely. And as the company promotes its Groups feature through its “More Together” campaign, some are concerned the issue will only worsen as the flu season goes on.