SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — With flu season setting in a local mother is sharing why she wants everyone to consider getting vaccinated.

In 2015 Angie Wehrkamp’s life would change forever. The Sioux Falls mother says it all started when her 2 and a half-year-old daughter Gianna became sick with influenza A.

“The doctor told us that, you know, we got in as fast as we could. Today is the sickest she’s gonna be, you know, once these antivirals kick in she’s going to be fine,” Wehrkamp said.

Gianna, described as spunky, authoritative, fun and healthy hadn’t yet had her flu shot.
Something Wehrkamp calls her biggest regret.

“She kind of hung out all that day. Never, just never acted like she didn’t really feel good. She just kind of laid and watched TV and… she didn’t make it through that night,” Wehrkamp said.

Gianna suffered a heart attack, a complication that resulted from influenza. The loss of her daughter lead Wehrkamp to get involved with the organization Families Fighting Flu.

“It was actually started in the year 2004 by families like Angie’s and mine who have been personally affected by flu. And these families tragically lost children to influenza and they took it upon themselves to get together and start this organization in an effort to raise awareness,” Serese Moratta said.

Chief operating officer Serese Moratta says the organization also aims to inform others about the importance of getting vaccinated.

“Although the flu vaccine, isn’t a hundred percent perfect, nothing in life is as an Angie mentioned, it can help prevent illness. It can help prevent hospitalization and almost most importantly, it can help prevent the related death,” Moratta said.

Sharing her daughter’s story has not only helped Wehrkamp inform others…

“Having other parents reach out to me and tell me that it made a difference in their lives, telling me that they feel that because they heard Gianna’s story that it most likely saved their child’s life. I mean that just to me, there’s no better feeling than that,” Wehrkamp said.

But also, keep Gianna close.

“Being able to do this is keeping her memory alive. And that’s something that every mom, grieved mom has to do,” Wehrkamp said.

Flu vaccinations are currently available to people in KELOLAND at local pharmacies and clinics.

For information and resources about the flu vaccine, click here.