When eight-year-old Mackenzie Coyne woke up one February morning with a stomach ache, her parents, pictured below, didn't panic. It looked like a mild illness, and Mackenzie had been vaccinated against the flu. Tragically, the young girl died only hours later.
Now, her family has learned that their daughter wasn't protected against the influenza virus that killed her.
As KSL News reports, the speed with which Mackenzie's illness progressed left her grieving family stunned. After celebrating her birthday on Friday night, Mackenzie went to dinner with her family Saturday and awoke feeling ill on Sunday. After being rushed to the hospital, she succumbed to complications from the H1N1 flu virus the same afternoon.
“Within just a few hours they were doing CPR on her and she was gone,” Mackenzie's teacher, Heidi Kaiserman, told KSL.
Learning that their daughter had been attacked by the flu virus left the family with more questions. Mackenzie had received what they thought was the most effective vaccine available—the FluMist nasal spray (pictured below).
This summer, only months after the Coynes lost their daughter, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that FluMist, pictured below, is ineffective. The CDC now recommends that people get the shot instead.
According to the New York Times, during the 2013-2014 flu season, researchers began to see indications that FluMist (which was thought to be more effective) might not work against the H1N1 virus. The manufacturer subsequently reformulated the vaccine. However, the H1N1 virus was predominant during the 2015-2016 season and it became clear that FluMist was ineffective against that strain.
Unfortunately, the Coynes depended on the earlier recommendations of FluMist when vaccinating their three children. Michelle Coyne told KSL News that it, “never even crossed my mind,” that Mackenzie might be in danger from the flu:
“We were told that [FluMist] was the most effective treatment because it contained the live virus. There was nothing else that said anything different. Our doctors didn't tell us anything different. Nobody really did.”
Mark Coyne, Mackenzie's father, was shocked and angry after hearing the CDC's announcement. He told KSL he doesn't understand why doctors weren't notified as soon as the CDC suspected there might be a problem with the vaccine:
“When I saw the interview with that CDC official and he said that we've known for two years that the FluMist is ineffective, my jaw dropped. How could he have known at the CDC that the FluMist was ineffective and how could our healthcare providers not have known?”
Having an explanation for Mackenzie's death has provided little comfort for the devastated family. As Michelle Coyne told KSL:
“For me, it doesn't make things better, it doesn't change the outcome we are faced with the rest of our lives that our family is without our 8-year-old. We didn't sign up to be part of a medical trial.”