Lowell woman's plea after granddaughter's death: Save a life, get a flu shot

On Jan. 16, just four days after she got sick, Piper collapsed in the parking lot of a children's hospital in Tacoma, Wash. By then, the H1N1 flu had already attacked her kidneys.
Piper died shortly before 12:30 p.m. that day. She was 12 years old. Her mother, Pegy Lowery, is now urging other parents to get flu shots for their children.
Lowery's own daughter was afraid of needles, often bawling when they touched her skin; so she never pushed Piper to get a flu shot, she said. And Lowery, of Port Orchard, Wash., said she always thought they were optional, not a necessity.

That view has since changed.

“I don't want it to happen to somebody else,” Lowery told The Washington Post. “I don't want them to lose their child. It's pretty devastating. There's nothing like it.”
To get her message across, Lowery is knitting infant hats as part of a Fight the Flu Foundation campaign.

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In the months since Scarlet’s death I can’t help but wish I had known more.  If only I had identified her symptoms as influenza sooner.  If only I had known how dangerous the flu could be.  If only I had gotten my family vaccinated.  Is it possible that I could have done something that may have saved her life?

As I approach the anniversary of Scarlet’s death, I think of the sweet, beautiful and vibrant child that once graced this earth.  Only a parent understands the absolute love you have for your child and the monumental desire that roars like an open fire inside you to protect them at all costs.

I still feel her presence everywhere, but mourn the fact that I can no longer see her.  Touch her.  Or protect her.

Whatever you imagine it might be like to have your child die, multiply that a zillion times, and you’re still not even close. The medical examiner should have written a death certificate for me as well, because when Scarlet died, a part of me died too. MORE...

"They can talk to you and the next minute be gone," said Heather Lindberg, Scarlet Anne's grandmother, who lives in Lowell. "People don't understand the flu."

In the wake of their family's tragedy, Lindberg and her daughter, Rebecca Hendricks, founded an organization aimed at ensuring that everyone understands how dangerous this common illness can be.

The effort began in April, and now the Fight the Flu Foundation has volunteers around the country. Lindberg is working on opening a chapter in Lowell.

In 2014, Scarlet Anne was one of 4,605 people who died in the U.S. as a result of influenza, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 60 percent of adults and 44 percent of children received the flu vaccine that year. MORE...

147 Kids Died From Flu Last Year. My Scarlet Was One of Them.

She didn’t think a flu shot was necessary — until her daughter died