health

"My son has whooping cough because of anti-vaxxers."

It started as a sore throat…

My son developed a headache and sore throat a few weeks ago, nothing out of the ordinary. It wasn’t until he fell asleep at 4pm one afternoon that I realised something was up. He’s 11 and had dropped his daytime naps many years ago.

I asked my husband to take him to the doctor for a checkup while I was at work. “While you’re there, can you ask them to test him for whooping cough, because the school sent out an alert saying someone in his class had it,” I told him. Later, my husband told me that the doctor scoffed at his suggestion to have Philip swabbed for whooping cough and Henry had to insist on it, saying, “My wife will be really angry if I don’t get it.”

A few days later I was having coffee with a friend when our very surprised doctor rang to say Philip had tested positive to bacterium Bordetella pertussis (whooping cough) and that our entire family was to come to his office immediately. Once there, we were all tested and were all instructed to take a very strong antibiotic for five days.

We were not to leave the house if possible, to prevent the spread.

This little baby girl has whooping cough. WARNING: This is incredibly difficult to watch.

According to Seven Newsthere has been a 300% increase in incidents of whooping cough in Sydney with the Hills District reporting the biggest increase. All I can guess is that the anti-vaccination movement has succeeded in tricking some parents into thinking vaccinations are dangerous, despite all the expert opinions assuring us that they are not.

Philip ended up being the only one in our family to test positive, however a week later I received another alert from his school reporting a third case of whooping cough. I asked our doctor why Philip had gotten it at all? We are a fully immunised family. He explained that vaccination rates in Sydney’s Hills Shire are dropping.

I was gobsmacked. We’re considered an ‘upper-income area’. We’re educated, we’re conscientious, we are devoted to our children. Why on earth are so many of us opting out of vaccinations?

Our doctor explained that vaccinations only work “if majority of people get them”. And here’s the real danger…while my son only had a headache, a sore throat, fatigue and a terrible cough for a few weeks, if he had come into contact with a family who has a newborn baby, the elderly or someone whose health was compromised by illness, it could cause death. The very thought horrified me.

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My children are fully vaccinated, but that wasn't enough to stop whooping cough entering our home.

A friend told me that her doctor had explained that higher income families were giving in to doubts over vaccinations and opting out, knowing that if their kids do get seriously ill they have the money to treat them. It doesn't make any sense at all.

If parents start to let doubts over vaccinations get to them, we are doomed, and I'm not exaggerating by saying this. All the illnesses my parents remember, will come back and then and only then, will we realise our deadly mistake.

I have been open and honest about my son's whooping cough diagnosis. I've been accused of being anti-vaxx, of being contagious. I've been made to feel embarrassed when informing those locations we'd attended that Philip had been diagnosed with whooping cough and could they put up a notice. Most were happy to comply.

Perhaps this is the wake up call the Hill's Shire needs to get those immunisations up-to-date.

When it comes to medical advice, always talk to your doctor.

Philip isn't contagious anymore but several times a day he coughs to the point of vomiting. The doctor helpfully informed me that whooping cough has the nickname 'the 100 day cough', so it will last a while and all I can do is hug him and feed him teaspoons full of honey because there is no treatment for the cough. It just has to 'run it's course'.

Please make sure your family and anyone who has contact with your children are fully immunised whre possible

Do you live in an area where preventable illnesses are spreading? Do you know anyone who has opted out of vaccinating their children? Why have they?

Want more? Try:

Why autism is not an excuse for the anti-vaccination movement.

This is what it's like when your baby has whooping cough.

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