Indiana State Department of Health apologizes for sending letters to deceased children

Parents upset with letters

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana State Department of Health is apologizing for inadvertently sending letters to parents of deceased children, notifying them that their children were behind on immunizations.

Linda Luong, whose son died in August 2010, contacted the Call 6 Investigators for help last month after receiving the letter from the state.

"It's just shocking because this child has been passed for two years," she said. "It kind of really caught me off guard and was like a sucker punch to the gut."

ISDH spokesman Ken Severson told Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney on Thursday that the agency sent email apologies as well as phone calls. Severson did not know how many families were impacted by the error.

"Please allow this e-mail to serve as an apology for the letter that you received," a Sept. 25 email from Dave McCormick, director of the ISDH Immunization division, to Luong read. "I appreciate the efforts that you took to bring this issue to our attention. … Again, my sincere apology for any pain that the letter you received caused."

The ISDH sent out 43,000 letters to parents of children up to 57 months of age notifying them that their children were behind on required immunizations.

The ISDH is the same agency that handles death certificates.

Luong shared her story on Facebook and found other grieving Hoosier parents from a support group who mistakenly received the same immunization letter.

"If they're sending out these letters, how many other grieving mothers have gotten these?" Luong asked. "I just really hope to save parents from going through this in the future."

A statement from the ISDH released last month did not acknowledge a mistake.

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