Galesburg boy dies of rare infection; officials stress importance of vaccinations


GALESBURG, Ill. (KWQC) – Tuesday an autopsy confirmed a Galesburg first-grader who passed away last September died of an airborne bacterial infection.

Jaden Lester, 6, died Sept. 15 after his breathing became restricted because his tonsils had suddenly become inflamed. Knox County Coroner Mark Thomas announced Lester died from Haemophilus influenzae, also known as Hib. A vaccine for Hib is commonly administered to children in a series of doses beginning at two months of age, and Thomas says Lester had received the vaccination.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the vaccination protects against many strains of the disease, but is still possible in vaccinated kids. Advanced Practice Nurse, Kelly Mixon, said getting vaccinated is crucial.

“Prior to us vaccinating a lot of children got meningitis from not having the vaccination. Since we are now vaccinating the children, we’re down to having less than 99 percent of our kids that are getting Hib.”

Two months later, Jaden’s school, Steele Elementary, is still coming to terms with the tremendous loss. Principal, Mike Lingafelter, said the 6-year-old’s smile and laughter will be greatly missed.

“It’s hard still, but at the same time we know that we have to continue on in his legacy so we are living and trying to be as friendly and as kind to others as he was.”

The school now has a poster of Jaden, and the attributes that describe him hung in the hallway. A new “buddy bench” is being made to also put in the school as a reminder that Jaden always strived to include others.

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