‘It takes the life of healthy people:’ A doctor urges flu vaccination after losing son


Dr. Jeb Teichman, a retired chief medical officer for the Community Plan of Kentucky, and his wife Grace were on vacation when they received the worst news of their lives. Their 29-year-old son Brent was unresponsive, days after being sick with the flu.

“Just before midnight, I got a call from Brent’s roommate that he couldn’t wake Brent up,” Dr. Teichman said. “We knew Brent was sick that week. … I sent him for care and while Brent was there in the office, I talked to the physician who saw him. Brent sounded better, the physicians had a good plan and just a few hours later, Brent passed away.”

Brent had told his father — a longtime pediatrician — that he planned to get his flu shot.

“He said it was on his to-do list, but obviously, he never got around to it,” Dr. Teichman said.

Brent was otherwise healthy, full of life, and a joy to those around him.  

Dr. Teichman, a husband, father, grandfather and pediatrician, has always been a passionate advocate for all vaccinations; since his son’s passing he has been especially focused on influenza vaccine.

“People think that, ‘it’s just the flu,’” he said. “It takes the lives of healthy people. But people don’t know that. Our mission is to inform people of that.”

During the 2019-2020 flu season, 22,000 people died from influenza and 400,000 were hospitalized. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states the flu vaccine prevented 105,000 hospitalizations and 6,300 deaths that year.

“If you’re thinking that you’re immune to the flu, I’m here to remind you that the flu does not discriminate,” Dr. Teichman said. “It will take the life of young, healthy individuals like my wonderful son who missed his flu shot.”

What’s more, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the potential stress on hospitals and care providers during the flu season, it’s more important than ever for people to help protect themselves and those around them. While the flu season last year was relatively mild, the season ahead appears to be on track for much higher numbers.

Making sure others get the flu vaccine – and other vaccines – is how Dr. Teichman and his wife honor their son’s legacy.

“By remaining vigilant partnering with local organizations, I know we can help improve health outcomes and save lives and preserve the hearts of moms, dads, brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors and even strangers,” Dr. Teichman said. “We don’t want anyone else to become a new statistic.”

To find a flu shot location near you, visit uhc.com.