A 4-year-old Colorado child died of the flu after his mother sought medical advice in an anti-vaxx Facebook group that encouraged her to pursue natural cures instead of taking Tamiflu, a common antiviral medication, or taking the child to the hospital. According to NBC News, the mother posted in Stop Mandatory Vaccination—one of the largest anti-vaxx groups on Facebook—stating that her son was running a fever and had a seizure. Two of her other children were diagnosed with the flu, and a doctor prescribed Tamiflu for everyone in the household. “The doc prescribed tamiflu I did not pick it up,” she wrote, adding that her typical “natural cures” like peppermint oil and Vitamin C were not working. Forty-five people commented on the mother's post, but none suggested she seek medical attention. Instead, they suggested cures like breastmilk, thyme, and elderberry. “Perfect, I’ll try that,” the mother wrote. The child was eventually hospitalized and died four days later, according to news reports and a GoFundMe page set up by the family.
A Facebook spokesperson called the situation a “tragedy.” “We don’t want vaccine misinformation on Facebook, which is why we’re working hard to reduce it everywhere on the platform, including in private groups,” the company said. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment confirmed the child died of the flu and said they had no records indicating the child was ever vaccinated. The mother did not respond to NBC's requests for comment.