Though only 83 percent of children ages 19 to 35 months have been vaccinated for pertussis (AKA whooping cough), one Australian mother is urging everyone to make this statistic 100 percent worldwide.
In this difficult-to-watch video posted to Facebook, mom of one Rebecca Harreman shows her 4-month-old son, Austin, gasping for air and struggling to breathe during a whooping cough fit. "For those of you sitting on the fence on whether to vaccinate yourself and your kids or not...maybe this video will convince you," Harreman wrote.
She also described how this coughing fit isn't even the worst of it, and how scary—and sad—it is to watch her tiny son turn blue because he's "coughing for so long and so much, he can't take a single breath."
The whooping cough vaccine schedule includes four separate shots, and baby Austin only made it through his first before contracting the illness from someone who wasn't vaccinated. Harreman urges parents to make the choice to protect their children and other children from this highly contagious and potentially fatal disease, writing, "At the end of the day, I tried to do something to prevent this and not sit there and say 'Oh well, vaccinations don't work, so I'll just sit here and do nothing'... because doing nothing goes against every cell in my body as a mother. Doing nothing is just wrong. Please share this and spread some awareness. This is getting worse because people are not vaccinating."
She's partly right: According to WebMD, there were more than 48,000 Americans who had whooping cough in 2012, which was the highest amount in 50 years. Doctors say that causes for this unexpected raise could include parents who don't vaccinate and also the fact that the vaccine does not provide long-lasting coverage, so kids need to get additional shots later in life.
Whatever the case, we feel for this new mom and for her nearly month-long ordeal trying to keep her son healthy. We hope this video, at the very least, will educate parents on the dangers of not vaccinating their children. Not only for their families, but for the families around them, too.