CRESTVIEW — Julie Kurkowski encourages North Okaloosa residents to get annual flu shots.

CRESTVIEW — Julie Kurkowski encourages North Okaloosa residents to get annual flu shots. 

Crystal Sweeney, her daughter-in-law, who didn't get a vaccination, is recovering after battling H1N1 influenza, or swine flu, and pneumonia.

Donate to the Sweeneys' medical expenses fund or learn more about the family>>

The 26-year-old is breathing through a ventilation unit while sedated, Jared Sweeney, said. 

Crystal was 29 weeks pregnant with newborn Lainee when she was diagnosed with H1N1, family members said. Doctors performed a cesarean section because of the mother's health.

Lainee is doing better than expected for a preemie; "she is doing fantastically well," Jared said.

The baby is now at a healthy weight and is "just fine," Kurkowski said.

THE 411 ON H1N1

H1N1, or swine flu, symptoms include fever, cough and sore throat; body aches, headache and chills; and fatigue, diarrhea and vomiting, according to Mayo Clinic.

Current flu vaccinations cover swine flu, which the World Health Organization declared a pandemic in 2010. The organization has since downgraded the viral infection from this classification.

However, the Sweeneys face steep hospital bills. And with Crystal starting physical therapy, Jared said his wife— who was admitted to the hospital Nov. 19 — isn't expected home anytime soon.

They expect $5,000 in uncovered costs.

Jared, a tire lube express specialist at the Crestview Wal-Mart, said co-workers have donated to the family.

And a family friend has established a medical expenses fund so anyonewith a debit or credit card can make a monetary donation.

Uncertainty abounds during this tough time, but all the prayers and financial support mean a lot, Kurkowski said.

"Even if we are sitting (at the hospital) alone, we know that we are not alone," she said.

Email News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown or follow him on Twitter or call 850-682-6524.