The vaccine debate rages on in the United States, but for one family in Canada who was once vehemently anti-vaccine, there has been a sea change. In the blog, “The Scientific Parent,” mom Tara Hills wrote on April 8 that all seven of her unvaccinated children contracted whooping cough and that they may have also passed it to their young niece who is too young to have been vaccinated.
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is highly contagious and presents at first like an ordinary cold, but can become fatal to infants in particular.
Hills had her first three children were vaccinated on an alternative schedule and the youngest four were not vaccinated at all.
It’s a risk, a massive, massive risk. As the Disneyland measles outbreak has shown us, no one is immune or safe from these diseases if we aren’t practicing vaccination and getting the herd immunity that comes from it. Like any parent, I am furious at those who would put my youngest child at risk. She has received her first round of the MMR, but for the months after the outbreak, she was still too young. And even now, her immunity is not as high as someone who has completed all the doses.
But it’s more than that, too.
When I was 26, I contracted whooping cough. I had been vaccinated as a child, but my vaccine wore off (the pertussis vaccine is notorious for this) and so I went from a mild, dry cough to breaking a rib from violent coughing within a few days. It was months before I could breathe again normally and I still believe my lungs are not the same. And the sickest part of all? Whooping cough had been nearly eradicated before the anti-vaccine movement.
In other words, people’s sick paranoia and crazy conspiracy theories led directly to me being sick for months and living in terrible pain. I can’t even imagine if one of my three babies had contracted the disease. It was bad enough as an adult.
The fact is, when you choose not to vaccinate, it is not a choice that only affects you. It affects every immuno-compromised person around you, every child who has yet to be vaccinated, and every person whose vaccines may not have worked. We need everyone to be vaccinated to have the best chance at eradication. Period.
Hill wrote from quarantine:
When I connected the dates for everyone involved it chilled me to the bone. I looked again at the science and evidence for community immunity and found myself gripped with a very real sense of personal and social responsibility before God and man