LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – A Louisiana family is speaking out after losing two loved ones to the flu within one week of each other.
The virus has already resulted in the more than 13,000 deaths nationwide since October 1 of 2018.
Within seven days, Nicholas Blanchard had symptoms and lost his life after a short battle with the flu.
Today his parents are speaking out and spreading the word of flu vaccines after the virus killed two members of their family.
Ken and Connie Blanchard stopped by the News 10 studios Friday afternoon to share their story.
They had just left the funeral of their cousin Erin Venable, who passed away after being diagnosed with the flu.
“Within just a very short period of time from the time she arrived at the hospital, she coded, they brought her back, and then right behind that she passed away”, Ken said.
To make matters worse, on Saturday, Ken and Connie are having a memorial for their son Nicholas after the flu ended his life.
“It came on very quickly from the flu to pneumonia. He ended up with a strep infection in his blood. The bacteria infection compromised his heart and his body just couldn’t shed the infection.”
Following the loss of their son and cousin, the couple is now encouraging everyone to get the flu vaccine.
“People need to be aware of that flu is still very active and circulating in Acadiana, across the state, and the country”, said Dr. Tina Stefanski with the Office of Public Health
She says the best protection against the flu remains to be the vaccine
“Those are really the best of things we can do to protect ourselves against the flu: get the flu vaccine, good hand hygiene, eat well, and rest.”
Nick, 32, and his cousin 33-year-old Erin had not seen each other in weeks.
His parents say the cases were completely separate and Nick nor Erin had flu shots.
“Don’t wait. Don’t wait to end up in our circumstances. Don’t wait and go to the doctor”, Ken said. He said he’s tried to make sure another family member isn’t put in the same position.
The Blanchards say family and friends are getting vaccinated in honor of Nick and Erin, and they want to remind the public that it’s not too late to get a flu shot.
The Department of Health says flu vaccines are still widely accessible in the community.
To get one just visit your local pharmacy, parish health unit, or your general practitioner.