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Medical mystery prompts flu shot safety questions

SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - The death of a 19-year-old has prompted questions as to whether or not flu shots pose a risk.
SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - The death of a 19-year-old has prompted questions as to whether or not flu shots pose a risk.

"It reduces illness, it reduces hospitalization, and it certainly reduces death," Nicholas Rupp said.
       
As a spokesperson for the Salt Lake County Health Department he said the flu shot has saved lives.

"Most people who receive the flu vaccine have no adverse reaction to it," Rupp said.  "Like any medical procedure there are exceptions to that, but it's very very rare."

The family of Chandler Webb may disagree.  The 19-year-old Sandy man died last week after spending nearly a month in a coma.  His mother told the Salt Lake Tribune a flu shot was to blame.

"Flu vaccines like many vaccines have been proven repeatedly to be safe," Rupp said.

He has no connection to Webb's case; however, he told ABC4 Utah that for most people, the vaccine has zero complications.

"They are so rare I'm not even familiar with what they might be," Rupp said.  "We literally haven't seen a serious adverse reaction in Salt Lake County as long as I've been in the Health Department." 

That does not change the fact that a Utah family is mourning the loss of their son, who reportedly received his one and only flu shot in preparation to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

So is the vaccine worth the risk?

"The risk associated with catching the flu is worse than the small risk associated with receiving the flu shot," Rupp said.

During this time of year, the flu virus is incredibly risky.  Last year, almost 450 people were hospitalized with the illness in Salt Lake County alone.  Twenty of those died.

Rupp told ABC4 Utah if you are questioning the vaccine, the best move is to ask an expert   "Anytime you have a concern about receiving a vaccine or any other medical procedure, you need to have a conversation with your healthcare provider. "

In the end the shot may keep you and your family safe.

ABC4 Utah attempted to contact the Webb family, but they did not return calls.  An autopsy to determine the actual cause of Chandler Webb's death was reportedly declined.

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