Irresponsible hype over death supposedly from flu shot

Websites like 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.

Utah mother faults flu shot in 19-year-old son’s death | The Salt Lake Tribune.

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.

A tragic as yet unexplained death, exploited by antivaccinationists – Respectful Insolence.

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.

  4 comments for “Irresponsible hype over death supposedly from flu shot

  1. Chuck Nelson
    November 26, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    Don’t forget shrimp and strawberries.

  2. Stuart Robbins
    November 26, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    I agree it’s irresponsible to say that the flu vaccine kills people. I would disagree that it’s “wrong” for the exact reasons you listed. Yes, exceedingly EXCEEDINGLY rare, but not impossible and – please correct me if *I’m* wrong – but I think there have been a few documented cases.

  3. November 27, 2013 at 3:19 AM

    Thanks for that! “The Flu” is BAD STUFF and kills thousands of people. The flu shot isn’t 100% preventative, but pretty darn close. If someone wants to claim the shot kills someone … do the autopsy, get the evidence, find out what the problem is.

  4. Harrow
    December 4, 2013 at 12:12 PM

    Lori Webb has refused an autopsy of her son Chandler because she is terrified of finding out what actually killed him. For cryptic reasons of her own she needs the cause of death to be the flu shot.

    As a skeptical observer, I am sympathetic with Mrs Webb’s need to believe certain assertions, but I still remain incredulous that those assertions can be true.

Comments are closed.