North Texas family on a mission to encourage flu vaccinations

Family on mission to encourage flu vaccinations

Any parent can relate to a child finger painting on a wall. For a family in Colleyville, those paintings are presented, hanging in the hallway like Picasso's.

"Not a lot of parents take it off the wall and frame it," said Jennifer Lastinger.

The works of art were done by their daughter, Emily, who died 14 years ago. At three years old, Emily had died from the influenza virus.

"At that point, none of us had ever had the flu," said father, Joe Lastinger.

Emily would be 17 years old and likely be driving to school. In the Lastinger home "would be" and "what ifs" are said and thought often.

The Lastinger's now work closely with a group called Families Fighting Flu. Their message is simple: educate and vaccinate.

"To a parent that thought, 'It's just the flu,' just the flu killed my child. It was just the flu," said Jennifer.

The Lastinger's said back in 2004 there were no recommendations for vaccination at Emily's age. That has changed since. The Lastinger's still admit there is a guilt and pain that comes from their daughter's death.

"You cannot wait and say, 'I'll wait to see if this vaccine is a perfect match this year,'" said Joe.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said everyone six months and older is recommended for year's flu shots with some rare exceptions. 

"When a child dies, you bury them in your heart. I think that's true," said Joe.

Click here for more information on Families Fighting Flu.

© 2018 WFAA-TV


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