A mother from Michigan is warning parents about influenza after her sixth-grader—who received the flu vaccination in December—seemed to suddenly show symptoms of the virus in early January, and tragically passed away soon after.
After 12-year-old Michael Messenger vomited while eating dinner with his family on Jan. 9, his mother, Jessica Decent-Doll, took him to an urgent care center near their home when he still felt ill the next evening. Physicians screened Michael for the flu, and a rapid test for the virus came up negative. With his vitals coming back normal, doctors gave Michael fluids and prescribed anti-nausea medication to ease his vomiting.
“The doctor said to keep an eye on him and keep giving him fluids,” Decent-Doll, from Sterling Heights, Michigan, told the Times-Herald.
Michael’s symptoms worsened by Jan. 11, and when Decent-Doll’s husband entered their son’s room that morning, he found him lying on the floor with his eyes open, but almost entirely unresponsive. He was struggling to breathe.
Decent-Doll immediately ran to the room to help revive her son, and with emergency dispatchers on the phone, Michael’s father performed CPR as they waited for paramedics to arrive. Michael was then transported to St. John River District Hospital, where he was pronounced dead about an hour and a half later.
“It’s indescribable, it really is,” Decent-Doll told the publication of her son’s death.
The family buried Michael a week later on Jan. 18, and Decent-Doll said they are awaiting an autopsy report to determine what exactly killed their son.
“Don’t wait, it’s all I can say,” Decent-Doll said. “This flu or whatever is going around this year is unbelievably dangerous.”
Decent-Doll also confirmed that Michael did receive a flu vaccination just weeks earlier. The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) reports that the flu vaccine lessens the chance that someone catches the virus by 10 to 60 percent and doesn’t guarantee that someone will not catch the flu. However, the annual vaccine is highly recommended by the CDC for everyone 6 months and older and the more people that get vaccinated can limit the disease’s spread throughout the community.
This year’s flu season has been devastating for children across the country. The CDC currently lists the 2017 to 2018 flu season as “moderately severe,” and warns it could get worse. Thirty children have succumbed to the virus across the nation so far, PEOPLE confirmed with the CDC.
A GoFundMe account has been started for Michael’s family to help with funeral expenses, and more than $10,000 has been raised so far.
“[He was] just a little guy,” Decent-Doll told the Times-Herald. “But he was so mighty, he really was.”