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El Paso family urges people to get flu vaccine after family member nearly dies

By Crystal Price
EL PASO, Texas -- The Department of Public Health in El Paso reports that flu cases are on the rise in the Borderland.

The department reported the first flu-related death in the Borderland this week.

A middle-aged man from El Paso has died from what lab results show is the H1N1 virus.

More than 400 people in the Borderland have been diagnosed with the flu within the last month.

The Department of Public Health shows cases in El Paso are predominantly H1N1.

El Paso resident, Berenice Zubia, said her mother Silvia Romero almost died from the H1N1 virus back in 2011.

"She had a cold, and five days later she was admitted into the hospital," Zubia said.

Romero's cold eventually turned into pneumonia and then it turned into a very severe case of H1N1.

Romer became so sick, that doctors did not expect her to make it.

"They only gave her 48 hours to live and we were already making funeral arrangements and family from out of town came in from everywhere," Zubia said.

Romero was in a coma for 30 days.

But one morning, Zubia said her family witnessed a miracle.

"Slowly she woke up and we were very glad and blessed that she did recognize us," Zubia said.

Zubia said making a call to the hospital may have been what saved her mother's life.

"If she hadnt been admitted within five days, we probably wouldn't have had this outcome," Zubia said.

Zubia urges everyone to get vaccinated this flu season.

"You just never know when you're going to get it," Zubia said.

Health clinics in the Borderland, like Summit Urgent Care, are feeling the impact of more patients.

"Texas was hit very hard with the flu so we're seeing a lot of complications from pneumonia and so our visits are up quite a bit," said Michael Jacobs, a family nurse practitioner at Summit Urgent Care.

Pharmacies like Walgreens have seen more prescriptions come through for Tamiflu, a preventative medication that helps treat the flu illness.

"It's hard to keep in stock right now," said Jeremy Clowe, a registered pharmacist with Walgreens. "I would say we're probably going to continue to see this."

Clowe recommends people get vaccinated now as the peak season nears.

"Generally the flu shot will keep the severity of the flu in check," Clowe said. "Somebody that has had the flu shot should not get the full-blown illness or they are less likely to have a flu illness."

El Paso resident William Arleth never lets a flu season go by without getting vaccinated.

"I've taken flu shots for the last 20 years and I've had no problems whatsoever," Arleth said. "It's never too late to get a flu shot. Get out there and take it."

Flu vaccines are available at many Borderland pharmacies and at health clinics throughout El Paso.