A North Carolina mother whose son died from the flu has spoken out about the importance of getting flu shots.
In 2014, Tonya Jenkins' 16-year-old son, Robert Tate, passed away from complications related to the flu, WGHP reports.
"In January, it will be four years and it's still hard," said Jenkins.
The teen was first diagnosed with an upper respiratory virus before his condition became more serious.
"It just seemed like he had allergies," said Jenkins in 2014. "You know, seasons change and it was getting cold."
"He was coughing really hard, I mean to the point where he's losing his voice," said Jenkins. Tate was taken to a medical center for treatment.
"We found out then that he did have H1N1, he had MRSA, so they were treating that and they were putting him on machines so he could breathe and he ended up getting septic shock," the mom said.
"I still feel like there was something more I could've done when I know there couldn't have been," she said.
Jenkins thought her son had gotten a flu shot, but learned later that he hadn't.
"At the beginning, I used to blame myself for it, but I had to stop that and I used to blame the doctors, I had to stop that," Jenkins said.
"I don't want no other child or even parents going too early not having it done," she added of the flu vaccination.
"I miss everything about him," the mom said, "his hugs, his laughter, his personality, his jokes, everything."
"In a good year, when influenza vaccine is on target, it gives you about 60 to 70 percent protection against influenza," explained Dr. Sloan Manning, who added that although it may seem early for flu shots, the flu season can start earlier than many think.
"Flu seasons can start as early as late September, early October," said Manning. The vaccine is also available in a potency designed for senior citizens.
There's still a chance of getting the flu after having a flu shot, but doctors advise that the best way to prevent the flu is to get a shot.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can not say exactly how many American die each year from the flu, because states are not required to report deaths of adults from the flu, and the flu is not often listed as the cause of death for those who die of flu-related complications.
People also often seek treatment for flu-related complications later in their illness, when influenza can no longer be detected.
The CDC estimated that seasonal flu deaths in the U.S. from 2010 to 2014 ranged from a low of 12,000 to as high as 56,000.