By KELSEY THOMAS, NEWS3LV
LAS VEGAS (KSNV) - Brenda Occhipinti never imagined she would be here.
“I just miss him. I miss him when he laughs. He's very, very goofy,” said Occhipinti.
Occhipinti’s12-year-old son, Carlo Junior, died of the flu.
He leaves behind three brothers and two sisters. The family’s house isn’t the same.
“See how quiet it is? It feels so empty without him,” she noted.
Carlo Junior first felt sick on Dec. 28, 2017.
He complained of a sore throat.
“I figured, you know, it might be strep throat. I was like, here's some Tylenol. We'll go see the doctor, you know?" she said.
Carlo Junior felt weak with a fever of 103 degrees. He went to the doctor two days later.
“He came back positive for the flu. He said there's nothing we can give him as far as medicine. Antibiotics won't do anything,” said Occhipinti.
Hours later, the 12-year-old was gone. He died in his mother’s arms. Occhipinti broke down in tears recalling the moment she lost her son.
“He goes ... 'Mom, I feel dizzy.' He landed on me. I was screaming for my 18-year-old daughter and the only one who came to help was my 10-year-old. So, she saw everything,” she said. “So, when he landed on me, he stopped breathing. His body was so lifeless."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says so far this year, 37 children have died from the flu.
That’s compared to just eight this time last year.
Doctors emphasize it’s not too late to get a flu shot.
The bug usually lasts about seven days but you can spread the germ 24 hours before the first symptoms even show up.
The facility still has flu shots available and accepts most insurance plans.
Without insurance, the shot costs $44 out of pocket.
The Health District will work with people who have issues paying for it. The Health District is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, but you can get the shot at other locations as well.
Carlo Junior didn’t get the flu shot because he suffered from Marfan Syndrome. It’s a genetic disorder that affected his muscles.
The 12-year-old got check-ups twice a year. His last one was in December. Doctors were impressed with his progress.
“Everything was perfect. His body and heart were growing at the same rate,” said Occhipinti.
Now, Occhipinti can’t help but wonder how her son could die like this.
“He loved music. He loved dancing. He was just a happy kid,” she explained.