WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (WOOD) - This deadly and sweeping flu season is hitting close to home for a West Michigan business owner. His young girl died from the flu years ago before health officials started stressing that children should get the flu vaccine.
Now, Zack and Angie Yaksich are anxious to get a message out so that others won't go through their nightmare.
Angie smiles when she looks at photographs of Alana, with whom she shared that special mother-daughter relationship.
Alana died nearly 10 years ago from the flu. She was 5 and a half years old.
"No one ever told us to get a flu shot. No one ever told us it was something you could die from," said Angie.
Alana had just finished a round of antibiotics for strep throat, but other than that, Angie and Zack say their girl was healthy, playing and laughing all day.
But one night, they got a call from the babysitter to come home because Alana had thrown up. By the time they got there, her fever had spiked to 106 degrees.
They rushed her to an emergency room, where she asked her dad to say the Lord's Prayer with her.
Within hours, Alana's brain swelled, she went into a coma, and died.
Alana got sick during the last major flu outbreak in 2003, before health officials stressed the vaccine for children. It wasn't until 2010 when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded its vaccine recommendation to include children as young as 6 months.
Alana once said her dream was to cover the world in rainbows. Now her parents hope her story reaches far and wide, and saves lives.
"I don't know what else someone would need for motivation than to meet somebody that has lost their child to something that can be prevented with something as simple as a shot," said Zack.
Every year, roughly 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized because of the flu, according the CDC.
While the flu virus is constantly changing, the CDC says in 18 of the last 22 flu seasons, the vaccine has been well matched to the virus.
Centers for Disease Control on the flu
Kent County Health Department flu information and prevention tips
Michigan Department of Community Health flu information and prevention tips
Danyell Thomas's preliminary hearing was adjourned and Dijana Kilic waived her hearing.
This summer, Metro Health Hospital partnered with the Gus Macker charity basketball tournament to raise money for automated external defibrillators -- or AEDs -- for Kent County schools.
A Grand Rapids woman has been charged in the death of her 5-month-old baby who died of accidental asphyxiation.