Flu victim deterred by cost of meds

Amid the worst flu season in recent years, is expensive healthcare to blame?

Photo courtesy of Joshua Bright | A 38-year-old Texas teacher died recently from complications that arose from the flu. She was given a prescription to help deal with someone of the symptoms, but when she found out it would cost $116 to fill, she decided not to get the medicine and this decision led to her death.

Heather Holland, a 38-year-old second grade teacher in Texas, died from the flu on Feb. 4 after abstaining from buying her prescription because of its $116 price tag. Although her husband bought it for her when he found out, it was too late for her to be saved. Holland left behind a 10-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son.

“Well, I mean, that’s just American health care, as sad as that is,” junior nursing major Liz Parillo said. “We know what other countries are doing and if it’s working for those countries and we choose not to do so… I’m not surprised. It’s horrible, but I’m not surprised that a public school teacher who can’t afford her medications died.”

“This is a sad time for our (school district) family, especially for those who knew Ms Holland as a friend and colleague,” Dr. Jeffery Hands, an administrator in Holland’s school district, said. “Heather was an outstanding educator.”

The district used the opportunity to also remind students of the precautionary measures they can take to prevent the spread of the flu, such as covering your mouth, avoiding sharing utensils and cups and receiving a flu shot every year.

In addition to these preventative measures, Parillo also believes that people ought to have more knowledge about the flu.

“A lot of people think that they have the flu when really it’s just a bad cold,” Parillo said. “When you have the flu, you’re not going to work. I think that’s a common misinterpretation.”

Although it is unknown if Holland received a flu shot, Parillo believes that it might not have mattered for Holland.

“It would definitely have helped her chances if she was vaccinated,” Parillo said. (But) every flu vaccine is different. A new one comes out every year. So, it’s not like, ‘OK, I got a vaccine last year, I’m good.’ A lot of vaccines work like that… But for the flu, it’s a new one every year because it’s a new strain every year.”

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), the flu season this year has primarily been affected by H3N2, causing it to be much more deadly and serious than previous years, especially for children and the elderly. As of Feb. 9, 63 children have died from this year’s flu, according to CBS.

CDC Acting Director Dr. Anne Schuchat said that over the next few weeks, “more deaths are likely to happen.”

By: Kevin Thomas ~U.S. & World News Editor~