A grieving Utah mother says that she believes a flu vaccine is responsible for her son’s death.
Lori Webb’s 19-year-old son Chandler was in perfect health the day before he received the shot, she says. Then, the day after he received the flu vaccine, he became very ill with severe symptoms such as shaking and vomiting. After a few short days, he was taken to the hospital because they symptoms were so bad. Shortly thereafter, he went into a coma which he never recovered from.
Eventually the family made the very difficult decision to remove life support and Chandler died on November 19, 2013, 28 days after his illness began.
Mrs. Webb says this was her son’s first ever flu shot. He had received it the day before he became ill as part of a routine physical in preparation for missionary work for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
According to the mother, her son’s death was due to brain swelling. “We’re angry,” she says “because we believe it’s the flu shot that [caused] it.” She refused to have an autopsy performed, however, saying that she believes a brain biopsy will provide the answers that they need. Webb says she believes that experts from outside the state are examining her son’s brain biopsy.
While Chandler Webb was at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, a team of six neurologists did every possible test searching for the cause of his illness, she says, including tests for Lyme disease, the West Nile virus and even sexually transmitted diseases. No cause was found, however.
A spokesperson for the hospital says that the young man’s doctors are prevented by law from talking about the case so no direct information about his illness, treatment or death are available from his attending physicians.
The Utah Department of Health released a statement on the case last Friday evening (November 22) stating that, “Our epidemiology staff have commented that although they have no evidence of a flu vaccine, or any other kind of vaccine, causing this type of reaction/outcome, they take these reports very seriously and they are thoroughly investigated by the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).”
In addition, a Utah Department of Health spokesperson named Tom Hudachko had the following to say about the case: “Like with other medical procedures, there can be side effects and adverse reactions. In the vast majority of those cases the side effects are not very severe — soreness at the injection site, low fever, achiness. Occasionally, yes, there are more severe side effects from receiving the vaccine.”
Webb told reporters that not all of the neurologists involved in her son’s treatment agree that the flu vaccine was the cause of his death; but, she says, “They cannot prove any other thing. My gut tells me that too.”
The heartbroken mother is so sure of her intuition that she even put her thoughts in her son’s obituary, warning other families about what she believes can happen to their loved ones too.
It was unclear from reports just how soon a determination of the cause of death was expected to become available.
By Nancy Schimelpfening