Woman almost dies from influenza; now she’s urges flu shots

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — With the first reported influenza death in the state for the 2021-22 season, health officials have urged Hoosiers to get the flu shot.

Dr. Amy Beth Kressel, a medical director of infection prevention with Eskenazi Health, said people need to get vaccine by the end of October. She said the flu shot is only about 40% to 60% effective, but it’s better to have it than no protection.

That’s a statistic Shari Hall can get behind. Hall, 57, had influenza in 2018 and almost died from the virus. “I didn’t get my flu shot that year because we were too busy,” Hall said.

She said the flu attacked her heart, not her lungs, sent her into cardiac arrest, and put her on life support for nine days. She lost her left leg, her right foot, and a portion of her finger. Hall said she had no prior health issues before the flu.

“The hardest part of my day is depending on someone else to help me. Getting up, getting bathed, and getting dressed,” Hall said.

She was on multiple different machines to keep her alive and help her breathe. With her experience, Hall wants everyone to know the vaccine is worth it.

“It takes 10 minutes to go get that shot,” Hall said. “I won’t skip it again! That’s for sure!”

The infection prevention specialist at Eskenazi said Hall’s experience was critical. In some people, influenza leads to pneumonia. Most people have milder symptoms such as muscle pain, cough, congestion, headache and shortness of breath. She also noted that influenza could be deadly for pregnant women.