Young father loses battle to H1N1 virus, family warns others to get flu shot

Published: Dec. 19, 2013 at 11:05 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 17, 2014 at 11:07 PM CST
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Jeremy on vacation with his son, Cameron.
Jeremy on vacation with his son, Cameron.

GREGG COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Health officials have confirmed that two Gregg County residents have died from the H1N1 virus, which was just confirmed as one of the "mystery illnesses" in Montgomery County, near Houston.

Starting Thursday, physicians are being advised to give their patients Tamiflu if they are showing flu-like symptoms. The good news is that the H1N1 virus is included in this year's flu shot, but so far, it looks like those who have died from the virus have not had the vaccination.

David and Jeri Chapman are mourning the loss of their 37-year-old son Jeremy Chapman who lost his life to H1N1 earlier this week.

They said their son had a great sense of humor and was a wonderful father to his 9-year-old son, Cameron.

"They were just very, very close. There was just such a strong bond there ever since Cameron was born, there was such a strong bond. He was just a great dad," Jeremy's mother, Jeri said.

Jeri said her son Jeremy was active and in good health, but the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, he had a sore throat and made a doctor's appointment for later in the week.

"They did the swab test for flu. By then, he was coughing and running fever, they swabbed him twice, which both came back negative," Jeri said.

She said a X-ray showed no problems with his lungs, but thinking it may be the onset of pneumonia, Jeremy was sent home with prescriptions.

"He kept taking his medication. Saturday morning he woke up and couldn't breathe good. He had a 103 degree fever all night long and we were trying to break it all night long and nothing would break it, then he started coughing up blood," Jeri said.

Jeremy was immediately taken to ICU at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview where he was put on a ventilator.

"I asked him if he was scared and he said, 'yes' and I said, 'I am too' and we prayed and then they came in and put the vent in and really that's the last time we got to talk to him," Jeri said.

Jeri said her son was eventually diagnosed with H1N1 and had not received his flu shot.

She said after three weeks of fighting the illness, Jeremy lost his life.

"I see now after what we went through, the roller coaster ride, the sadness, just the horribleness of all of this, and losing a son, it makes you realize that just that one shot, if Jeremy had thought that he wasn't invincible and a strong guy, and didn't need a shot, working with the public the way he did, coming in contact with so many people, you know, he should have had that shot," Jeri said.

Now, she and her husband are telling their son's story in hopes it will encourage others to get the vaccination that can prevent the virus that took their son's life.

Texas has reported one of the highest numbers of cases of influenza-like illness in the nation.

East Texas health officials said they are stocked up on the vaccine and recommend everyone get it before the peak of flu season in January or February.

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