A 4-year-old boy dies from flu after mom sought advice from anti-vaxx Facebook group

Anti vaccines
iStock

Najee Jr., a 4-year-old boy from Pueblo, Colorado, died from the flu this week and now his family is facing criticism because the boy's mother sought advice on how to treat her child's illness from a controversial group called Stop Mandatory Vaccination on Facebook. The group is known for giving out medical misinformation and spreading conspiracy theories. It's really not the kind of place where you should go seeking medical advice at all, but it has more than 139,000 members who seem to have no problem giving advice they have no business giving. 

More from MamásLatinas:13 Ways to protect your family from the deadly flu

"The doc prescribed tamiflu I did not pick it up," Geneva, who is a mother of four, wrote in a since-deleted post in the Facebook group. She also asked members of the group for advice on how to treat her child because none of the "natural cures" she was using to treat any of her sick kids were working. At the time, Najee had not been diagnosed with the flu, but he was running a fever, had a seizure, and some of his siblings had been diagnosed with the flu. 

What kind of advice did she get from the people in the Facebook group?

She was told to try breast milk, thyme, elderberry, and other natural remedies. No one suggested seeking professional medical attention or that she fill the Tamiflu prescription. Tamiflu cannot cure the flu, but is used to ease symptoms and shorten the duration of illness.

Advertisement

Najee was airlifted to Children's Hospital in Colorado Springs.

According to a GoFundMe page set up by the family, Najee Jr. passed out on February 2. Geneva had gone to the ER to that day because her 10-month-old was running a temperature of 104. Once she was back home, Najee Jr., her 4-year-old, passed out after taking a bath. The GoFundMe page states: 

"I immediately called 911 and began CPR, the EMT'S arrived and took over and according to reports I passed out. I was in shock because Najee seemed normal and not in as bad of a condition as his brothers. Ultimately, my son was airlifted to Children's hospital in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I was told that my son suffered an anoxic brain injury related to a seizure that may have occurred from a fever or from him losing his airway."

Advertisement

Details of what happened to Najee Jr. haven't been shared, but his death was confirmed.

Very few details of the child's death have been shared, but the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has confirmed his death. "The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment can confirm that a preschool-aged child in southern Colorado has died of flu," CDPHE wrote in a statement. "The death is the second pediatric flu death in Colorado this season. The department does not have any records that show whether the child was vaccinated against influenza."

The backlash against the family has been strong.

When news got out that Geneva was associated with the Stop Mandatory Vaccination group on Facebook and was asking for advice from people in the group, the backlash was swift. Najee's father, Najee Jackson Sr., said "I don’t look at none of it."

He and the family are grieving the death of their child while they all try to recover from their own bouts with the flu. Let's try and have some compassion for them, especially since we don't know all the details of what happened.

It's true that the Facebook group in question is suspect, but we don't know how much of their advice Geneva followed. If nothing else, let's all use this as a reminder that we shouldn't be taking medical advice from strangers on Facebook.

Advertisement

Here's more on the story and whether Facebook should be more responsible.

It's terrible when anybody dies from the flu, but when it's a child it feels particularly devastating. This case once again makes you wonder how much responsibility Facebook has to stop the spread of misinformation. Sure, the social media giant doesn't want to be a censor, but at some point, it needs to realize that it is not the world wide web where anyone can buy a domain and post about any nonsense they want. This is Facebook's platform and it has a responsibility to weed out the nonsense.

Topics: health