Local News


Mother who lost son to flu urges people to get flu shot

Posted at 6:41 AM, Nov 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-14 09:41:01-05

A mother is making it her mission to make sure kids in Las Vegas are getting their flu vaccines after she lost her son to the virus in December 2017.

Only a month into the flu season, Southern Nevada has seen 10 flu cases; two of which were hospitalizations. This time last year there were 31 confirmed cases.

According to the Center of Control and Disease and Prevention, Nevada ranked 45 in vaccination rates among young children up to six years old.

The Occhipinti family lost their son, Carlo Junior, in 2017. 

"I just can't explain how fast the flu took him that quickly,” said his mother Brenda.

The 12-year-old died less than 48 hours after becoming sick. His death took his mother by surprise after she made sure Carlo’s vaccination were up to date every year.

Now, Brena Occhipinti is a crusader for the flu shot.

"A lot of people might think, 'Oh they got food poisoning, or [it] was something they ate, or that it's going away’," said Occhipinti.

In 2017, the Southern Nevada Health District reported 192 cases involving minors.

"The influenza vaccine significantly decreases child's risk of dying from influenza," said Shaw.

13 Action News spoke to Laura Shaw, a physician at UNLV Medicine about the misconceptions of the flu shot.

"People think, I'm healthy, I don't need the flu shot. Secondly, they think they're going to get sick from the flu shot," said Shaw.

The CDC ranks Nevada 50th with a vaccination rate of nearly 54 percent. 

"It's actually not possible to catch the flu from the flu shot," said Shaw.