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Burlington mother hopes her son’s death will encourage people to get a flu shot

BURLINGTON, N.C. – A Burlington mom hopes her son’s death will encourage people to get a flu shot.

“In January, it will be four years and it’s still hard,” Tonya Jenkins said.

In January 2014, her son Robert Tate was just 16 when he passed away from flu-related complications.

Jenkins says he was initially diagnosed with an upper respiratory virus.

His condition grew worse over the following days, and he was eventually rushed to Chapel Hill on life support.

“We found out then that he did have H1N1, he had MRSA, so they were treating that and they were putting him on machines so he could breathe and he ended up getting Septic shock,” she said.

Tate passed away on January 21, 2014.

Now, Jenkins is encouraging people to listen to the warning we often hear from doctors.

“In a good year, when the influenza vaccine is on target, it gives you about 60 to 70 percent protection against influenza,” Dr. Sloan Manning, family physician with Novant Health said.

Manning says that estimate applies to healthy average age adults.

Flu vaccines are available now, including the vaccine with a different potency for seniors.

Although it may seem early for a flu shot, Manning says it is not.

“Flu seasons can start as early as late September early October,” he said.

Jenkins thought Tate received a flu shot, but later found out that was not the case.

“At the beginning, I used to blame myself for it, but I had to stop that and I used to blame the doctors, I had to stop that,” she said.

It’s hard to say if the flu alone took Tate’s life considering his other medical complications at the time, but Jenkins says anything people can do to protect themselves is worth it.

“I don’t want no other child or even parents going too early not having it done.”