Toronto-area mother launches flu vaccine campaign after toddler’s death

October 26, 2016
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On a Friday morning back in May, Jill Promoli’s two-year-old son Jude woke up with a low-grade fever at their home in Mississauga, just west of Toronto.


Promoli gave Jude a Tylenol to bring down the fever and by the early afternoon, he was acting like himself again, playing with his blocks and singing songs with her.

When she put Jude and his twin brother, Thomas, down for their regular afternoon nap, she would never have guessed that something was amiss.

“When it was time to get up, I went to wake the boys and Thomas jumped up right away and Jude didn’t,” Promoli told during a phone interview on Tuesday.

“That was unusual. Usually they’d both be sleeping or they’d both be awake because one would wake up the other.”

Promoli knew right away that something was wrong. She called 911 and administered CPR with the help of her neighbours while they waited for the paramedics to arrive. An hour after Jude was taken to the Credit Valley Hospital, he was pronounced dead.

Promoli said the doctors told them there wasn’t physically anything wrong with Jude and that his cause of death was “unexplained.”


On Aug. 24, the family discovered that their son had died from a strain of Influenza B, a type of flu, according to the final autopsy report. Promoli was shocked by the news because Jude, Thomas and their older sister Isla had all received the flu shot in December.

According to Promoli, Jude didn’t have any other illness or health concerns prior to his death. She said he contracted the flu from his sister who caught the virus at school earlier that week. His twin brother also became sick with the flu on the day Jude died.

“Even though Jude was in the high-risk age group (for flu complications), he was healthy,” Promoli said. “You expect them to recover.”

On Oct. 18, Promoli wrote about Jude’s death in a Facebook post and urged her readers to participate in a new social media campaign she has recently created.

“Jude didn’t die because we didn’t vaccinate him. He died because there aren’t enough people around us doing the same, and there was no protection for him when his shot failed,” she wrote.

Campaign for the flu shot


In honour of Jude’s memory, Promoli has launched a social media campaign to bring awareness about the risks associated with the virus and the importance of getting vaccinated. She said the idea is to open up the conversation about the virus and its prevention. Promoli also created the hashtag #forjudeforeveryone as part of the social media campaign to encourage those receiving the flu shot to take a photo of it and post it online with the hashtag to spread the message.

“The idea is that there will be a visible reminder into their newsfeeds, into their Instagram feeds, whatever they see on a regular basis, they’re going to see their friends and family getting the flu shot,” Promoli said.

Promoli said she’s already received a lot of positive feedback about the campaign she launched last week, including messages from supporters who told her they had never received the flu shot before and now they will never miss another one.

Promoli would also like the public to seriously reconsider going to work or school when they’re sick because it affects everyone.

“If somebody hadn’t gone to school when they were sick, then we would maybe still have Jude now,” Promoli said.

Dr. Allison McGeer, the director of infection control at Mount Sinai Hospital, told in a phone interview on Tuesday that anyone considering the flu shot should take those around them into account. She said that healthy adults can easily spread the flu to high-risk groups like young children, the elderly and anyone with other illnesses.

“It’s not just about your own protection, but about the people around you,” McGeer said.

McGeer said the flu vaccine isn’t perfect and that recipients of the shot can still become sick from the virus.

“The flu vaccine is not as good as many other vaccines,” McGeer said. “The question is not: is the flu vaccine perfect, but is it better than not getting the flu vaccine?”

McGeer said the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks as the flu shot provides partial protection which is still better than no protection. Canadian public health officials recommend that everyone over the age of six months with no complicating health concerns obtains the vaccine.

Promoli hopes that her campaign will help prevent a similar tragedy happening to another family and that it will also pay tribute to her son.

“He was this hilarious little boy who was constantly into everything and causing mischief. But he was so loving and so smart. He just loved everybody and gave the best hugs,” Promoli said.


  1. Leslie

    October 26, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    This is heartbreaking that this child died. But I don’t understand the logic of endangering my own child with a flu vaccine that is not necessarily going to be effective in order to protect someone else. There have been many injuries with the flu vaccine–every year children and adults suffer and sometimes die from the vaccine. The vaccine is not adequately tested for safety, and every year the makers have to guess which strains to put in it. At one point last year it was reported 19% effective. Therefore, I do not agree that the benefits outweigh the risks, and people should make their own informed decisions. My heart goes out to these parents, and to anyone who loses a child to an illness or a vaccine injury.

  2. Nick

    October 27, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    to bad it takes a death to try and get others to think of society as well as themselves

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