Websites like Fark.com and anti-vax sites jumped on this story but there is much to be cautious about. So, we bring you the story, and then a sound commentary by a qualified physician. You need to know the WHOLE story, not just the mother’s tragic one that is being spread around the media.
Lori Webb’s 19-year-old son died early Tuesday morning after spending nearly a month in a coma.
She said Friday she believes he died of an adverse reaction to an influenza vaccination he received on Oct. 15, the day before he first fell ill. The shot was part of a routine physical Chandler Webb got after deciding to go on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Chandler Webb’s direct cause of death was swelling of the brain, his mother said.
“We’re angry because we believe it’s the flu shot that [caused] it,” she said.
She declined an autopsy, reasoning that a pending brain biopsy is sufficient to determine a cause of death, if possible.
I feel it was irresponsible to decline an autopsy but continue to state that she believes she knows the cause of death. She does not.
Orac has written a good response about why we should be skeptical and to not miss the big picture by making this case exploitive.
Reading between the lines, I think it was clear that the doctors thought that Webb had some sort of infectious meningitis. They had him on broad spectrum antibiotics and various other medications.
Throughout the stories, Lori Webb assumes that if someone had asked about whether her son had received any vaccines recently he would be alive today because the doctors would have known what to do. That is wishful thinking, to say the least, and the reason is that encephalitis due to flu vaccine, particularly so soon after vaccination, is what we in the medical field call a “zebra”; i.e., a very uncommon or rare condition.
He also links to this site in noting there are other reasons to think that it’s not the vaccine. We have not seen additional cases!
If this was a rare reaction to the vaccine, it’s EXCEEDINGLY rare as are side effects to any vaccination. However, the flu vaccination prevents untold numbers of people getting the illness, being hospitalized or dying.
Therefore it is it incredibly irresponsible and WRONG to say that the flu vaccine kills people. So do bathtubs, stairs, peanuts, bee stings, and cows falling through roofs. Rare and sometimes not always preventable.