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Elk Horn mother urges flu vaccines after daughter dies from virus

Three-year-old Ayzlee McCarthy tested positive for both influenza A and B in 2014. Two days later, her symptoms escalated.

ELK HORN, Iowa — Flu season begins next month.

Health experts said cases were down last year, but that's because people were in their homes due to COVID-19. 

Amber McCarthy, a mother from Elk Horn, said people need to take influenza seriously.

Her daughter, Ayzlee, died from the flu at three years old in 2014.

“We took her to the clinic, in the next town over. She had no respiratory symptoms," McCarthy said. "Nothing really going on except for a low-grade fever at the time and her legs hurt. She didn’t want to walk.”

Ayzlee tested positive for both influenza A and B. Two days later, her symptoms escalated.

“I thought, ‘Oh she’s probably dehydrated. Get her in to the ER, get some fluids in her and all will be fine.’ And we never came home with her," McCarthy told Local 5.

The family is now urging others to get the flu vaccine.

"I’m guessing she probably would have got sent home in today’s age with COVID-19 if we went to the hospital," McCarthy explained.

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She does not want the fear of COVID-19 make people forget that influenza is a deadly virus too.

“You can say, ‘Well that’s not going to happen to me.’ Well, it did to us and we’re just your typical Iowa rural family. Just normal people,” she said.

Ayzlee's mother explained that she was vaccinated. The Center's for Disease Control's (CDC) website states you can still get the flu if you are vaccinated. The flu vaccination reduces the risk of illness between 40 and 60%.

To honor Ayzlee, the McCarthy family holds the annual Ayzlee Family Flu Clinic

To learn more about flu prevention, click or tap here.

Flu vaccination clinics organized by the McCarthy family

  • Monday, Oct. 4 in Elk Horn
    • 4114 Madison St (Exira EHK High School)
    • 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm
    • Drive-up clinic
    • Appointments can be made by calling Shelby County Public Health @ 712-755-4422 or visithttp://shelbycountyclinics.com/
  • Friday, Oct. 15 in Harlan
    • 2712 12th St (Community Health Building)
    • 3 pm - 7 pm
    • Drive-up clinic
    • Appointments by calling Shelby County Public Health at 712-755-4422 or visit http://shelbycountyclinics.com/
  • Wednesday, Oct. 27 in Atlantic
    • Cass County Health System (Curved driveway entrance along 10th St)
    • 2 - 6 p.m. (Tentative time)
    • Drive-up clinic

WATCH | COVID safety measures may have killed certain strains of the flu 

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