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Parents and Guardians

The Story of Joey Holt

On the morning of November 2, 2009, previously healthy 7-year-old Joseph "Joey" Jonathan Holt was sent home from school with a 102 degree fever, but showed no other symptoms of illness. Joey had a strong appetite and seemed like his normal, vivacious self, unstoppable and full of life. Because he had to be fever free for 24 hours before returning to school, Joey stayed home the next day. He was fine throughout the day and spent time writing his Christmas list, playing with his toys and watching movies.

However, the next morning, on November 4, Joey woke up pale and lethargic. He had no appetite and would not drink or eat. Joey spent all day with his mother resting on the couch, being cuddled and loved. During this time his brother, Jeffrey, started developing a slight cough; however, it was nothing to alarm his mother about so Jeffrey went to school. But, later that afternoon, Jeffrey’s school called and suggested he be seen by his doctor because he was running a fever of 103 degrees. His mother picked up Jeffrey from school and took both boys to the doctor. After a thorough evaluation, the doctor concluded that Joey had influenza and Jeffrey had a common cold. Their doctor prescribed lots of liquids for Joey and medicine for Jeffrey.

Later that evening Joey became inconsolable, pale and very cold. He wanted nothing more than for his mother to hold him and love him. Joey did not sleep at all that night.

In the early morning hours of November 5, Joey’s parents decided that they had done their very best to help him and couldn’t do anything more. His mother called 911. Joey was transported to the hospital in an ambulance, but suffered a heart attack en route. Joey was pronounced deceased about an hour later.
Joey’s brother, Jeffrey, was also hospitalized that morning and admitted for a week because of similar symptoms. The doctor assumed that Jeffrey also had H1N1 influenza; however, because the proper blood tests were not conducted, his parents will never know.

Preliminary reports revealed the cause of Joey’s death was from complications of H1N1 influenza. Joey had not been vaccinated against H1N1 because at the time the vaccine was not available in his community, and his mother was not informed enough to make a decision about whether or not to vaccinate her children. Since Joey's death, the entire family has received the H1N1 vaccine, as well as the seasonal flu vaccine, and has vowed to get vaccinated every year moving forward.

Joey's mother has formed The Joey Holt Foundation in an effort to heighten public awareness and offer educational seminars on the severity of influenza. She also plans on helping other families who have experienced the loss of a child due to influenza. Joey’s mother is currently writing a book outlining the life she and her family shared with Joey.

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