Anti-vaxxer changes mind as seven kids catch whooping cough

The Hills Family in healthier times
The Hills Family in healthier times

IT IS never easy to change your mind on something you passionately believe in.

For Canadian mum Tara Hills, her change-of-heart from strident "anti-vaxxer" to recognising their importance may have come too late.

She wrote about her ordeal on The Scientific Parent from isolation in a piece titled, "Learning the hard way".

"The irony isn't lost on me that I'm writing this from quarantine," she said.

"For six years we were frozen in fear from vaccines, and now we are frozen because of the disease."

Her tale comes as Australian parents are being warned they risk losing government welfare payments if they refuse to vaccinate their children.


Tara's story started with "the kids" catching what she thought was a cold from Tara's brother-in-law.

But there was no runny nose, no sneezing, just a cough.

Her youngest three would soon be "coughing so hard they would gag or vomit".

The busy mum decided against vaccinations, swayed by claims about "Big Pharma" and allegations that such protection was unnecessary.

Tara's real shock came when there was a measles outbreak in her circle of friends.

"Maybe we could have weathered that storm in personal quarantine," she said.

"But in the four highly contagious days before any symptoms show, we easily could have passed on our infection to my sister's toddlers or her 34-week-old son in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit)."

A visit to the GP and the kids were ready to catch up on their innoculations.

But it was not to be.

She writes:

"That schedule that was supposed to start the week after I found myself in the waiting room of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) with my 10-month-old son, waiting to confirm if he had whooping cough.

"I said before that the irony isn't lost on me that I'm writing this 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.

"Ottawa Public Health has been so helpful and communicative, trying to get us the help we need while keeping the community safe.  We are under quarantine and starting antibiotics.

"Tonight, the baby started 'whooping'.  I did the right thing going to the hospital when I did.  I can only hope this painfully honest sharing will help others.

"I am not looking forward to any gloating or shame as this 'defection' from the antivaxx camp goes public, but, this isn't a popularity contest.

"Right now my family is living the consequences of misinformation and fear. 

Tara Hills, a woman who changed her mind on vaccinations
Tara Hills, a woman who changed her mind on vaccinations

"I understand that families in our community may be mad at us for putting their kids at risk. 

"I want them to know that 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. 

"We can't take it back … but we can learn from this and help others the same way we have been helped.

"Vaccination is a serious decision about our personal and public health that can't be made out of fear, capitulation or following any crowd. 

"No one was more surprised than us to find solid answers that actually laid our fears to rest.  I am confident that anyone with questions can find answers. 

"I would only advise them to check your biases, sources and calendar: Time waits for no parent."


Topics:  editors picks letter vaccination

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