Several weeks ago, my two-year-old came down with a cold. As the weeks progressed, the cold kept getting worse and worse.
Finally, one day, she began coughing so hard that she turned blue … when she stopped coughing, there was nothing but silence. No sharp intake of breath. No cry. Nothing but a pleading look on her face as she tried to inhale.
After what seemed like an eternity, the breath came. But not before every possible, terrible scenario had gone through my mind. And then she was fine. She was running around, playing as though it had never happened.
Several hours later, the same thing again. Off and on throughout the night … it seemed we would no sooner fall asleep than another episode would start and I would bolt out of bed and up to her room to check on her.
As a parent, I cannot imagine losing a child. And my heart aches for each and every parent that has ever experienced such a loss. These coughing episodes were scary. I couldn’t fix it, couldn’t make it go away. And for me, that was bad enough.
When we went to the doctor, they wanted to test Ella for pertussis. My immediate reply was, “But she’s been vaccinated for that.” And my pediatrician’s reply was, “But there are some children that are not vaccinated and that is starting to take its toll.” His assessment seems to fall in line with Dr. Stephen Aronoff, Chairperson of the Department of Pediatrics at Temple University School of Medicine.
Couple that with the statistic that the current vaccination seems to lose its effectiveness after about a decade, and it’s a recipe for disaster. And it’s exactly why scientists are looking at boosters for kids and even adults. But if you haven’t had the original series of vaccinations to begin with, chances are you won’t be getting a booster either.
I get it. I do. I understand why some parents choose not to vaccinate their children. I understand the worry.
But as a parent who now has a child with pertussis, I’m angry. I’m angry because I know where it came from. And I know that the child that transmitted it to Ella isn’t vaccinated. I’m angry because the choice of that parent ultimately affected my child.
And as a result of my child being sick, our whole family has to be tested, because we could now all be infected. While we may not get sick, we might now be carrying the virus and unknowingly transmit it to another child … one that may or may not be vaccinated.
And I never want another parent to have to watch their child turn blue … ever.
So, if you’re a parent that chooses not to vaccinate your child, and you’re reading this, I know I won’t change your mind. You might even argue that you’re more responsible … and that if your child was sick with an illness like this, you’d never expose him to anyone else.
But in the case of pertussis, the first two weeks mimic just a cold … you’d never even know that your child has the virus until they’ve already exposed other people.
I get the argument. But all I’m asking is that you walk away from this post and think about the fact that your choice is affecting not just your own child, but other people’s children as well.
If Ella was just a bit younger, her risk of death would be high and her complications could include brain damage from a lack of oxygen and permanent seizures.
As parents, it’s our responsibility to protect our children. Vaccinations were created to help rid the world of diseases that kill our children and adults. And while I don’t agree with all of them (for example, I think chicken pox is more of a convenience vaccination), I am a parent that believes in vaccinations.
photo credit: bubsyboo