A Pasco County woman has died from the flu, health officials and her family confirmed to FOX 13.
Holly Harrelson, 27, was a young mother of three.
A few weeks ago, Harrelson had the classic symptoms: fever, body aches, cough. She even posted how badly she felt on Facebook.
"She put on there, she didn't feel good, and if she wasn't better she was going to go to the hospital. She said I'm riding shotgun with death," her father, Tim Harrelson, said.
The next morning, Holly drove herself to the hospital. Within hours, she was in intensive care. Her parents learned it would be the last hours of her life.
"Being a police officer, I've seen that death look, and I saw it then," her father said. "She still showed signs of life, but she had that jaundice color to her. From time to time, they shoved us out of the way, and started pounding on her chest."
The flu caused Holly's body to shut down. Her parents watched their little girl fight for her life.
"We held her hand, begged with her to fight and pray."
This week the CDC confirms, Holly had H1N1, better known as the 2009 pandemic "swine flu."
"Like any parent, we would kill or die for our kids, and we won't have the opportunity to do either," says Tim.
Kim and Tim are now reminding others to protect their families, since the virus can be deadly. If they could turn back time, they'd encourage their daughter to get the shot.
"Make sure you don't take that risk, of not taking a flu shot. I don't know if this would have stopped this, or prevented this, we'll never have the opportunity to find out."
The entire family has now been vaccinated.
Pediatric deaths are tracked nationally by the states and CDC. Adult deaths, are not. So far, adult deaths are estimated to be at or below baseline.
Another recent CDC report says only about 40 percent of people get vaccinated. In spite of those numbers, they believe it kept 6.6 million people from getting sick last year, and 79,000 out of the hospital.
New this year, are flu shots that cover four viruses instead of three, and a shot that is made without eggs. Subcutaneous vaccines, using small needles beneath the skin, and intranasal (breathed into the nose) are also available for people who don't like needles.
It's as easy as going to your local pharmacy.
And when it comes to shots, 89 percent of pharmacists and about 85 percent of doctors get them every year. Only about half of other kinds of health care workers get one.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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