Father of 4-year-old who died from flu responds to 'anti-vaxxer' criticism

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PUEBLO, Colo. (KDVR) — The father of a 4-year-old Colorado boy who died from the flu this week is speaking out Thursday as his family receives backlash online.

The controversy stems from a Facebook page suggesting the child's family supports the ideology of people who do not believe in getting vaccines, also known as anti-vaxxers.

Father Najee Jackson Sr., mother Geneva Montoya and their remaining three sons continue to battle flu symptoms. Jackson said their 10-month-old son’s symptoms seemed to be the worst — with high fevers requiring hospitalization.

Najee Jr.’s eventual flu diagnosis came as a total surprise, according to Jackson.

On Sunday, the family returned to their Pueblo home after their 10-month-old was treated at Children’s Hospital in Colorado Springs. That evening, Najee Jr. passed out.

"His heart stopped,” Jackson told KDVR. “He wasn’t breathing. They got his heart going back at the hospital in Pueblo.”

Najee Jr. wasn't able to recover from the incident, however. Doctors ultimately declared him brain dead and took him off life support.

Since news of the death, screen grabs of Facebook posts from Montoya have gone viral. On Jan. 31, Montoya wrote, “... my 4year old had a febrile seizure at only temp of 102. The doc prescribed tamaflu I did not pick it up ...”

Montoya declined KDVR’s request for a television interview.

Montoya is also facing criticism for being associated with the same online anti-vaxxer group. Montoya’s Facebook posts show she solicited unproven at-home flu treatments involving cucumbers and potatoes.

People have also attacked them online for not recalling if their sons had been vaccinated against the flu.

“I don’t look at none of it,” Jackson said, referring to the online criticism.

The grieving parents say what they’ve been through is hard enough and they don’t have time for online judgement.

“The negative comments — keep (them) to yourself because at the end of the day," Jackson said. "What’s important is that each one of these parents goes home and kisses their kids.”

Jackson said that his 10-month-old son’s condition is now improving.

“His temperature is manageable now,” he said. “We’ve been on top of that.”

Montoya has established a GoFundMe page to help pay for expenses related to Najee Jr.'s death.

“I miss everything about him,” Najee Jackson Sr. said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated every flu season.

"While influenza vaccine varies in how well it works, every season influenza vaccines prevent millions of influenza illnesses, tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths," according to the CDC.

Experts say the vaccine could prevent the flu. If it doesn’t, vaccinated people are still more likely to experience less severe symptoms.

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