Whooping Cough In Her 7 Kids Leads Anti-Vaxxer Mother To Change Her Mind, Warn Parents

Whooping Cough Quarantine
Mother regrets not vaccinating her seven children who now have whooping cough. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Mothers across the world come to a fork in the road: to vaccinate or not to vaccinate? For decades, all 50 states in America have required parents vaccinate their children against contagious diseases, including polio, measles, and the whooping cough, but one mother from Canada, where the laws are more lackadaisical, left her seven children unprotected.

Now, writing from quarantine, Tara Hills watches her seven unvaccinated children undergo treatment for pertussis, better known as "whooping cough" and warns other parents not to repeat her mistakes. The three oldest children are partially vaccinated and the youngest four have never had an immunization. She blames her unwarranted fears and lack of trust in the medical community, on years of circulating myths about vaccinations' role in causing autism and Big-Pharma-government-media conspiracies trying to manipulate the public.

"We stopped because we were scared and I didn't know who to trust," Hills wrote from quarantine. “For six years, we were frozen in fear from vaccines, and now we are frozen because of the disease. My oldest two are getting better. The youngest four are getting worse and fast.”

When her children began coughing, she thought it was just a common cold. But after a week of progressively worsening bouts of coughing, she “snapped into something is wrong mode.” After scouring the Internet for answers, she found overwhelming evidence pointing to the whooping cough, and put her years of mistrust in medicine aside to sit down with her family doctors to create a catch-up vaccination schedule.

"My youngest three children were coughing so hard they would gag or vomit," Hills wrote. "I'd never seen anything like this before."

Hills connected the dots between small measles outbreaks in her personal circles last year and recalled her sister’s 34-week-old son infected with measles the year before. Once her 10-month-old son had a confirmed case of whooping cough, she realized the evidence was all there. She’s still in quarantine with her children, and her youngest has just reached the characteristic whooping stage in the disease.

"Right now my family is living the consequences of misinformation and fear," she wrote. "We tried our best to protect our kids when we were afraid of vaccination and we are doing our best now, for everyone's sake, by getting them up to date."

Parental concern for your children is natural. Hills, too, weighed the consequences of each path she could have taken and felt the risk of vaccinating her children with, what she suspected to be harmful, chemicals outweighed leaving them unvaccinated. The medical community has been working to address big misconceptions about vaccines with the goal of opening up health dialogues with parents who have the right to question their doctors.

On the other end, doctors need to be ready to deliver the answers to ease their concerns, according to PBS’s newest documentary “NOVA: Vaccines-Calling The Shots.” There was disconnect between Hills and her children’s doctor. Had they been on the same page, perhaps she would have reconsidered evidence that would have revealed the level of danger she put her children in. She apologizes for putting her community members and their children at risk, and hopes her experience can be used as a lesson for other anti-vaxxers. 

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