Oregon inmate’s flu-related death leads family to sue state for $7.5M

A family is suing the state of Oregon for $7.5 million after their relative, 53-year-old Tina Ferri, an inmate at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, died of complications related to the flu because she reportedly did not receive a preventive vaccine. A lawsuit filed Monday in Washington County Circuit Court and reviewed by The Oregonian … Continue reading “Oregon inmate’s flu-related death leads family to sue state for $7.5M”

A family is suing the state of Oregon for $7.5 million after their relative, 53-year-old Tina Ferri, an inmate at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, died of complications related to the flu because she reportedly did not receive a preventive vaccine.

A lawsuit filed Monday in Washington County Circuit Court and reviewed by The Oregonian states Ferri died on Jan. 15 after a flu outbreak hit the women’s prison.

SHOULD YOU GET THE FLU SHOT? WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT THE 2018-19 FLU SEASON

While the facility had purchased the vaccine to administer to its tenants, it reportedly didn’t purchase a sufficient amount — only enough for 519 out of the 1,645 inmates housed at the facility, the lawsuit said, according to the newspaper.

A lawyer representing Ferri’s estate, Michael Fuller, told The Oregonian that the prison only used 300 of the 519 vaccines and claimed they were only distributed after some of the inmates fell ill.

Ferri contracted the flu and was subsequently quarantined in her cell, the lawsuit reportedly stated. At one point, Ferri allegedly began to cough up blood and was later transported by ambulance to a local hospital.

There, the 53-year-old was shackled to her hospital bed and was supervised by armed guards, the suit said, according to The Oregonian.

She died just hours after she arrived at the hospital.

The lawsuit, citing hospital records, claimed her death was “set in motion due to an Influenza A infection with staph superinfection.” Her cause of death was organ failure, the hospital records reportedly said.

Ferri’s death came just months after she began serving a six-year sentence for her involvement in an impaired driving crash, according to The Oregonian.

While the vaccine for last year’s flu season was about 40 percent effective, Fuller told the publication Ferri ’s death could have been better prevented if “most if not all” of the inmates at the facility had been vaccinated. The vaccine could have limited her exposure to the virus, he argued.

MONTANA 6-YEAR-OLD IS STATE'S FIRST FLU DEATH OF SEASON, FAMILY SAYS

Additionally, “a government report from the Federal Bureau of Prisons will state that at a minimum, prisons must always tell each inmate about the availability of flu shots, and must always tell each inmate when they may receive a flu shot through handbooks, fliers, electronic messages, and other announcements,” the suit stated, according to The Oregonian. But despite the alleged policy, some inmates at the facility testified that they were not informed about their access to the vaccine.

Jennifer Black, an Oregon Department of Corrections spokeswoman, declined to comment on the lawsuit when contacted by The Oregonian, citing the pending litigation. Black did not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment on Thursday.

Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.

Montana 6-year-old is state’s first flu death of season, family says

The Montana Department of Public Health has confirmed the state’s first flu death of the season, revealing that the fatality is a child from Missoula County. While health officials declined to reveal additional details, family members have identified the victim as 6-year-old Allison Eaglespeaker, a kindergartener who they say died of influenza B and pneumonia on Saturday.

DAD'S PICTURE OF SLEEPING TODDLER CAPTURES FRIGHTENING CANCER SYMPTOM

According to the family’s GoFundMe page, the Russell Elementary School student died at Community Medical Hospital in Missoula. It is not clear if she had received the flu shot this year, but health officials urged those who haven’t already to get vaccinated as flu activity throughout the state is expected to rise in coming weeks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest flu surveillance report noted five pediatric deaths already this flu season, which does not include Eaglespeaker.

HOSPITAL INVESTIGATING AFTER MOM CLAIMS STAFF IGNORED ILL BABY

According to a news release posted by the state’s health department and the Missoula City-County Health Department, this year there have already been 36 influenza cases reported, resulting in six hospitalizations. Last year, over 10,000 cases were reported, including 979 hospitalizations and 79 deaths.

Additionally, health officials advise covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, washing hands often with hand sanitizer or soap and water, avoiding contact with eyes, nose and mouth, and avoiding close contact with sick people. They urge those who are sick to stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever subsides.

Missouri nurse fired for refusing flu shot over religious beliefs, protesters claim

A group of protesters gathered outside of Mercy Hospital South in St. Louis Monday to protest the hospital’s policy that requires employees to receive a flu shot, claiming at least one nurse at the facility was fired after she refused to be vaccinated, citing religious reasons.

Nelia Aubuchon, who organized the protest, told Fox 2 a nurse at Mercy Hospital South was terminated after she requested an exemption from the policy on religious grounds. The hospital allegedly refused to grant the nurse’s request and terminated her shortly after, Aubuchon told the news station.

SHOULD YOU GET THE FLU SHOT? WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT THE 2018-19 FLU SEASON

"Mercy has a policy that says that they accept religious and medical exemptions and yet, in practice, it appears that they are not accepting them; they're denying them,” Aubuchon told the news station, though she wouldn't identify the nurse who was allegedly fired.

"Here at Mercy South, this nurse knows of no other doctor or nurse who actually was granted their religious or medical exemption and, frankly, here we're focused on the religious exemption because this nurse chose rather than being coerced in receiving the shot,” she added.

Aubuchon wrote on Facebook the protest was not about the “efficacy of flu shots [or] mists or a pro or anti-vaccines conversation.” Rather, she explained, “It's about Mercy's denial of ALL religious and medical exemptions for their employees and their draconian measure of terminating those who will not give in to their policy. Mercy Hospital denied ALL doctor and religious leader signed exemption paperwork.”

She also argued the policy constitutes as religious discrimination and violates employees' personal rights.

But Bethany Pope, a spokesperson for Mercy Hospital South, told Fox News the hospital approved “the majority” of the 170 exemption requests it received this year — many of which were “accepted for meeting valid medical or religious exemption criteria.”

In total, the Mercy Health System employs more than 44,000 people, according to Pope.

SOUTH DAKOTA REPORTS FIRST FLU DEATH OF THE SEASON

“The point of our flu vaccination policy is simple: protection against the flu virus saves lives, especially those of our most vulnerable patients. Requiring health care co-workers to be vaccinated for the flu is a best practice across the U.S. to ensure the safety of patients, co-workers and community members. Mercy revised our flu vaccination policy several years ago and requires compliance with the policy by all Mercy co-workers as a condition of employment,” Pope said.

“Those co-workers whose exemption requests were not accepted will be notified this week and, in accordance with our policy, will not be permitted to remain employed without receiving a vaccination. This is an important step in protecting our patients, visitors and co-workers,” she added, noting the hospital's policy regarding a mandatory flu shot is the same “as most hospitals across the country.”

Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.

Dr. Siegel: Flu season is here — here’s what you need to know

Influenza is one of medicine’s great enablers. You may start with the flu and end up with something more severe or even life-threatening.

Those with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and emphysema are at greater risk of complications from the flu. This means they can get sick from the flu but then need hospitalization for something like pneumonia or a heart attack. Pregnant women and their fetuses are also at high risk of flu complications.

Last year was one of the worst flu seasons on record. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that more than 80,000 people died and more than 900,000 were hospitalized in the U.S. from the flu.

The main problem last year was that the predominant strain was an Influenza A H3N2 (H and N are proteins on the surface of the flu molecule which attach and detach flu from your cells). This strain caused a lot of complications and was fairly resistant to the flu vaccine, which was a big part of the problem.

This year looks better so far. We can predict what will happen here based on Australia’s flu season, which recently ended.

It was a mild to moderate flu year “Down Under” and the predominant strain was an A H1N1, which tends to be much more susceptible to the vaccine. In fact, in Australia this year, vaccinated individuals were 68 percent less likely to see a primary care doctor and 66 percent less likely to be hospitalized due to the flu compared to unvaccinated people. The prevalent strains were also 100 percent sensitive to commonly used anti-flu drugs including Tamiflu.

According to the latest CDC report, flu activity in the U.S. is currently low, so this is not going to be an early-peaking flu season the way it was last year. There is still plenty of time to get the flu shot, and I urge everyone to do so.

Vaccines are not meant just to protect you – they are intended to protect those around you. The more people get the flu vaccine, the less circulating flu virus there is, the less chance an elderly person or a chronically-ill one or a pregnant woman comes down with the flu.

Dangerous myths populate attitudes about the flu vaccine, beginning with the one that you can get the flu from the flu vaccine, which is just a protein (antigen) from a dead virus. In fact, the sniffles or transient aches you may develop after your flu shot is just a mild allergic reaction or your immune system at work.

As a result of these and other flu myths (the vaccine doesn’t work, the flu doesn’t kill, you won’t get it now if you haven’t gotten it before), the flu vaccination compliance rate was once again less than 45 percent for adults last year.

But vaccines are not meant just to protect you – they are intended to protect those around you. The more people get the flu vaccine, the less circulating flu virus there is, the less chance an elderly person or a chronically-ill one or a pregnant woman comes down with the flu. (And pregnant women who get the flu shot are much less likely to need hospitalization.)

Tragically, according to the CDC, 80 percent of the 185 children who died from the flu in the U.S. last year were unvaccinated.

Flu shots, like all vaccinations, are based on the concept of herd immunity. If you are strong and young and healthy but want to help protect those around you who may be more at risk of flu complications, get your flu shot.

And if you come down with the flu, ask your doctor if you or those around you would be better off if you took a drug like Tamiflu, which decreases severity of symptoms, complications, and length of time that you shed the virus.

Though I am predicting a mild flu season with a predominant strain that is less ferocious than last year’s and is well covered by the vaccine, I would like to add a word of caution: Predictions are not facts, and the flu is more easily transmitted during times of low humidity. So be on the lookout during cold weather.

There’s one final flu myth to dispel. My patients frequently mistake common upper respiratory symptoms for the flu. The flu is characterized by fever, body and muscle aches, and fatigue. You may have nasal congestion or a sore throat too, but the way you generally know you have the flu is if you are walking along one minute and need to lie down the next.

Dr. Edward Anderson wrote about influenza (also known as “the grip”) in the Journal of the American Medical Association way back in 1894. What he stated then still holds true today. “This disease has been commented on by some of our ablest men, but it has not received the consideration it deserves, for it extends throughout the habitable world and has destroyed more lives than the cholera and yellow fever put together, attacking alike the centenarian and the child within its mother’s womb.”

Anderson was particularly prescient when you consider he wrote this before the worst flu pandemic on record – the 1918 Spanish flu, which killed over 50 million people worldwide with 675,000 of those flu-related deaths occurring in the U.S., according to the CDC.

But we need to remember that even the mildest flu season sickens millions and kills over 10,000 people. The time to start preparing for the flu is now.

Marc Siegel, M.D. is a professor of medicine and medical director of Doctor Radio at NYU Langone Medical Center. He has been a medical analyst and reporter for Fox News since 2008.

South Dakota reports first flu death of season

A South Dakota resident has become the state’s first flu death of this year’s season, the state’s department of health announced Monday.

The Pennington County resident — who has not been identified — was in the 60-69 age group, the health department said.

SHOULD YOU GET THE FLU SHOT? WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT THE 2018-19 FLU SEASON

The death is the state's first of the 2018-2019 season, and there have been 35 “lab-confirmed cases of the flu and 8 flu-related hospitalizations” to-date, the health agency reported.

“Our sympathy is with the family. Their loss serves as a reminder to us all that influenza can be a very serious illness,” Joshua Clayton, an epidemiologist for the South Dakota Department of Health, said in a statement.

“It is not too late to get vaccinated for this flu season, and if you haven’t yet received your annual flu vaccination, the time to do so is now,” he added.

Each year, on average, 33 “South Dakotan deaths are reported to the Department of Health following influenza infections,” the South Dakota Department of Health said.

The death follows last year’s severe flu season, where an estimated 80,000 people were lost to the viral infection, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield said in September. The 2017-2018 flu season killed the most people since the 1970s, the CDC also said at the time.

MICHIGAN SCHOOL DISTRICT CLOSES AMID FLU OUTBREAK

The flu is “spread by respiratory droplets released when an infected person coughs or sneezes,” according to the South Dakota Department of Health, which added the infection can cause a fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, a runny nose, and fatigue, among other symptoms.

To protect yourself and others against the flu, the health agency recommends receiving the flu vaccination, washing your hands with soap and water, and covering your mouth if you sneeze or cough, among other suggestions.

Fox News’ Elizabeth Zwirz contributed to this report.

Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.

South Dakota reports first flu death of season

A South Dakota resident has become the state’s first flu death of this year’s season, the state’s department of health announced Monday.

The Pennington County resident — who has not been identified — was in the 60-69 age group, the health department said.

SHOULD YOU GET THE FLU SHOT? WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT THE 2018-19 FLU SEASON

The death is the state's first of the 2018-2019 season, and there have been 35 “lab-confirmed cases of the flu and 8 flu-related hospitalizations” to-date, the health agency reported.

“Our sympathy is with the family. Their loss serves as a reminder to us all that influenza can be a very serious illness,” Joshua Clayton, an epidemiologist for the South Dakota Department of Health, said in a statement.

“It is not too late to get vaccinated for this flu season, and if you haven’t yet received your annual flu vaccination, the time to do so is now,” he added.

Each year, on average, 33 “South Dakotan deaths are reported to the Department of Health following influenza infections,” the South Dakota Department of Health said.

The death follows last year’s severe flu season, where an estimated 80,000 people were lost to the viral infection, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield said in September. The 2017-2018 flu season killed the most people since the 1970s, the CDC also said at the time.

MICHIGAN SCHOOL DISTRICT CLOSES AMID FLU OUTBREAK

The flu is “spread by respiratory droplets released when an infected person coughs or sneezes,” according to the South Dakota Department of Health, which added the infection can cause a fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, a runny nose, and fatigue, among other symptoms.

To protect yourself and others against the flu, the health agency recommends receiving the flu vaccination, washing your hands with soap and water, and covering your mouth if you sneeze or cough, among other suggestions.

Fox News’ Elizabeth Zwirz contributed to this report.

Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.