By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Flu cases in our region continue to grow and it’s early in the season. Today Pennsylvania health officials made a big push to get more people vaccinated. Influenza kills 30,000 people every year. And while there’s a lot of fear about Ebola now, health officials say the flu is more dangerous. But it’s preventable, something one mom learned the hard way.READ MORE: WATCH LIVE: Philadelphia Eagles Players Talk To Media
Diane McGowan has a tattoo of her son’s signature on her wrist. It’s a tribute to her son who died when he was 15 from complications from the flu.
“He had the longest eyelashes, but his infectious laughter I definitely miss,” said Diane.
Her heartbreak is mixed with guilt. Martin never had a flu shot, that could have saved his life. Diane was afraid of the chemicals, and nine years ago before Martin died flu shots weren’t recommended for healthy teenagers. They are now.
“My decision not to vaccinate, I have to live with that,” said Diane. She created the M.A.R.T.I.N. Flu Foundation. She was part of a meeting of Pennsylvania leaders and health officials urging people to get vaccinated.
“This flu season thus far we’ve had 98 cases of confirmed influenza. Last year we had 131 influenza related deaths,” said Robin Rothermel, with the Pennsylvania Department of Health. She says people need to be reminded that the flu is more dangerous to most people in the United States than Ebola.
“The potential of the numbers that influenza will impact is significantly greater,” said Robin.READ MORE: WATCH LIVE: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy Hosts Tropical Storm Ida Resource Recovery Virtual Town Hall
Hoping to improve vaccination rates some officials received the needle free vaccine, during the meeting hoping to encourage more people to protect themselves. Last year only 47 percent of Pennsylvania residents got a flu shot.
Diane says it’s a simple step that can prevent disaster.
“His baseball number was eight. It also turns into infinity. I love you to infinity,” said Diane.
With cases of flu already being reported in our region, doctors say it’s important to be vaccinated now. It takes two weeks to be effective.
For more information on the M.A.R.T.I.N. Flu Foundation, click here.
CBS 3’s Flu Resource Guide here.MORE NEWS: 'Go On With Your Dog And Pony Show': Montgomery County Commissioners Clash During Thursday Board Meeting