Houston woman blames flu shot on mom's death - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Houston woman blames flu shot on mom's death

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A daughter said her mom just wanted to protect herself by getting a flu shot, but it turned out to be a deadly decision.

Tracey Moreno Sawyer fought tears as she explained how her 83-year-old relative was "completely healthy and lively."

Norma Parrish was well aware of this season's aggressive and widespread flu epidemic.  That's why she thought the flu shot was her best bet against the influenza virus.

Instead, Parrish fell ill days later, stricken with a high fever," Sawyer said.  She eventually slipped into a coma.

"I'm not a doctor," Sawyer said.  "All I know is what I've read and I think the public should know that there are these side effects that could happen and take somebody's life."

Parrish lasted almost three months in the hospital before she died.  On her death certificate, the cause of death reads encephalomyelitis or ADEM, a rare neurological disorder.

Baylor College of Medicine's Dr. Pedro Piedra did not treat this particular patient and was not able to provide specifics but did say this virus is so rare, the chances of getting it are about one in 10 million.

"So to say that it is cautiously associated, we have not been able to demonstrate that with ADEM or even with Guillain-Barré Syndrome," Piedra said.

Sawyer doesn't necessarily agree with what doctors have to say.  She has done her own research and spoken with other health professionals.

"I think there should be more awareness of the possibilities of contracting ADEM," Sawyer said.  "It was the flu vaccine.  That's what I feel."

She added there is just no other explaination as to why her relative went from completely healthy to deathly ill.

Dr. Piedra said the virus is so rare, there is just no evidence to link it to the flu vaccine.

We did confirm as many as 49,000 people a year die from influence, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  They still say your best defense against influenza is getting the flu shot since it is proved to protect.

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