Teacher Who Died From Flu Couldn't Afford $116 Med Co-Pay

A second-grade teacher who died from the flu couldn’t afford the $116 copay on her prescription.

Heather Holland, 38, of Willow Park, Texas passed away Sunday, Feb. 4 after suffering complications from the flu. Her death came just days after being diagnosed and prescribed a medication that she couldn’t afford, the Weatherford Democrat reports.

According to her husband, Frank Holland, Holland had fallen ill about a week prior to her death and had been prescribed flu medication, but when she went to pick it up, she discovered that there was a $116 copay. Her husband bought the prescription for her, but Holland’s condition only worsened.

“Friday night, things escalated and she ended up in the ICU,” Frank said. "The doctors got the blood cultures back and they had to put her on dialysis early Saturday.”

Holland was admitted to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Friday, where she died days later after going into septic shock.

“She was a wonderful person,” her husband said, adding that she had no previous health conditions.

The Weatherford Independent School District, where Holland taught second grade at Bose Ikard Elementary, notified parents of Holland’s death in a letter, stating that “today is a difficult day at the campus.” The district stated that custodians had been deep cleaning schools since December and that Bose Ikard Elementary had last been cleaned on Friday, Feb. 2.

Holland’s death comes as fear of the flu spreads, with the CDC reporting at the beginning of the month that influenza had already claimed the lives of more than 50 children.

Acting CDC director Dr. Anne Schuchat said that this year's flu season is the worst since the 2009 Swine Flu pandemic. Her statement comes on the heels of new research from Canada that revealed that this year’s flu vaccine is 14% less effective than originally thought, meaning that it is just 20% effective against the dominant H3N2 strain.

“That means people who were vaccinated should not consider themselves invincible for this season,” said lead researcher Dr. Danuta Skowronski, an infectious diseases expert at the BC Center for Disease Control.

Despite the inefficiency of the flu vaccine, the CDC is still urging people to get vaccinated, as it can still lessen the chance of catching the virus by 10% to 60%, potentially saving lives.