October 24, 2016 7:49 pm
Updated: October 24, 2016 7:51 pm

Mississauga mom urging Ontarians to learn from tragedy and get flu shots

WATCH: Mississauga mom urging Ontarians to learn from tragedy and get flu shots

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Jill Promoli lights up when talking about her two-year-old son Jude.

“He was the funniest kid, he was so smart and he was constant trouble, every kind of mischief a kid could get into,” she said with a smile.

But there is also pain in Promoli’s voice — her little boy died May 6, 2015.

READ MORE: 2 children, 3 adults in Alberta die, prompting push for flu shots

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Jude had a mild fever, but seemed to be feeling better, then when Promoli went to wake Jude and his twin from a nap, Jude didn’t get up.

“It’s impossible to talk about those first moments, the first hour,” she said.

“There’s no way to describe it and I never really try because it’s just, it’s not the kind of thing you ever imagine happening and it’s not something I would ever wish on someone to go through. It’s horrific and desperate.”

READ MORE: 6 vaccination myths debunked

Months later, in August, an autopsy revealed Jude had died of the flu. He had had the flu shot and the strain “Influenza B” was covered, but the vaccines aren’t always 100 per cent effective.

That is exactly why Promoli is encouraging more people to get vaccinated, to protect everyone else.

“Then they are not out there getting sick and they are not spreading it to people around them,” she said.

“You should never underestimate the flu,” said Eric Hoskins, Ontario Minister of Health. “The flu can cause serious illness and even death.”

READ MORE: 5 ways to protect yourself from the flu

According to the provincial government, about 3,000 Ontarians a year die from the flu and about 12,000 are hospitalized due to the flu.

Health officials are worried this year could be a bad one.

“We are seeing early signs already of the H3N2 which usually means its going to be more active and more intensive in its action,” said Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

READ MORE: You’re more likely to get the flu shot if your province lets pharmacists give them

Despite campaigns urging people to get vaccinated, only about one third of Ontarians get the flu shot.

Promoli wants anyone who is undecided to think about her son.

“If one more person had had a flu shot he may still be here,” she said, adding knowing that telling Jude’s story could save another child helps make the bad days just a little bit easier, but nothing will ever replace his hugs.

“He hugged everybody, he was so loving and just really funny.”

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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