Watch video: Mother’s online plea for children to get vaccinated goes viral. Cindy Pom reports.
TORONTO – A new mother’s plea for parents to vaccinate their children has gone viral after being shared over 38,000 times on Facebook.
“This is why you immunize your children!” Meghan Mcnutt-Anderson wrote on Facebook along with a photo of her five week old daughter, Brielle.
She made the demand after her infant daughter contracted whooping cough, a condition she claims is generally spread through unvaccinated people.
“Brielle is too young to be immunized yet and children whose parents chose not to immunize them, put small babies like Brielle, as well as others with compromised immune systems, at risk,” Mcnutt-Anderson wrote on Facbeook. “Had we not brought her to the hospital when we did, I don’t doubt she could have easily died with one bad coughing fit.”
(She has since taken the post off of Facebook)
The American Centre for Disease Control (CDC) warns that whooping cough can be extremely serious if contracted by an infant and can quickly lead to them developing pneumonia and breathing trouble.
To protect a child against whooping cough, the CDC suggests getting them vaccinated and surrounding a baby with only family members and caregivers that have been immunized. Expectant mothers can also get vaccinated in their third trimester, according to the CDC website.
The condition was increasingly rare but has made a comeback in recent years. Whooping cough cases in the United States fell from a peak of 265,269 in 1934 to 9,771 in 2002. But since 2002, reported cases in the United Sates has been rising each year with a spike in 2012 of 48,277 cases (provisional 2013 numbers report 24,231 cases), according to the CDC.
The Public Health Agency of Canada also reported a spike in reported whooping cough cases in 2012 of 4,540. That was up from 695 the year before.
Some experts say the rise of preventable diseases is directly linked to the anti-vaccination movement. Dr. Gerald Evans, a Queen’s University medicine professor and the director of infection control at Kingston General Hospital told Global News in March the rise of whooping cough along with other preventable diseases like measles is “100 per cent blamed on the fact that people aren’t getting vaccinated.”
Dr. Natasha Crowcroft, chief of infectious diseases at Public Health Ontario suggested the recent rise in reported whooping cough cases is likely due to two things, the anti-vaccine movement and new vaccines that don’t last as long.
“In some areas it’s definitely because there are groups of people who are anti-immunization or just don’t think it’s important or forgotten why,” Crowcroft said. “There’s other evidence that some of the new vaccines don’t last as long as they used to.”
She added that every few years there will be a spike in cases.
Crowcroft suggested people aren’t getting vaccines because their generation hasn’t had to deal with the visible impact of infectious diseases like whooping cough or measles.
“People have forgotten what these diseases are like,” she said. “It speaks to all these people out there who’ve forgotten what these diseases were about. In our grandparent’s day, no one had to question immunization because people saw children with these diseases.”
The new vaccines are considered “safer,” Crowcroft said. They don’t cause serious problem but the older vaccines sometimes caused fevers or sore legs in infants. The new vaccines don’t cause those, but don’t seem to last as long.
“The newer vaccines are safer but they don’t last as long and that’s always a trade off in vaccines,” she said.
As a result, people need to be aware of their immunization and one of the reasons the government offers free booster shots for adults – who may not know they have whooping cough and can give it to young children.
“More and more we’re finding that it does happen, and babies do catch whooping cough from adults which is why we fund a booster for adults,” she said. “Every adult in Ontario should have had a booster and that’s to protect babies as well.”
Crowcroft added that the whooping cough vaccine is “vital” for young children.
“The first dose of the whooping cough vaccine is absolutely vital and it can make the difference between life and death of the baby, nearly all of the babies that die of whooping cough, they missed out on one of the doses of immunization,” she said.
– With files from Cindy Pom