The mother of a 4-month-old boy with whooping cough has posted a video of her sick son on Facebook in hopes of encouraging other parents to vaccinate their kids.
Rebecca Harreman, a mom in Brisbane, Australia, posted the 27-second video highlighting what a child with pertussis, commonly referred to as whooping cough, goes through. “For those of you sitting on the fence on whether to vaccinate yourself and your kids or not, maybe this video will convince you,” the mom writes. The video, which has gotten more than 1.2 million views and more than 27,500 shares since it was posted on Nov. 13, shows Harreman’s young son, with a runny nose and red eyes, coughing repeatedly. But the mom says the video is not nearly the worst of it — in fact, she says it’s actually a “good” moment for the baby. “When I say this is good, I mean that’s absolutely nothing. Not even long enough to be called a coughing fit. Nothing compared to watching him turn blue from coughing for so long and so much he can’t take a single breath.”
Harreman says the video was taken 23 days after her son’s cough started, which is when the worst should be over, but that a simple cold she caught and passed to her son is now causing him to relapse. The cough can last for up to 100 days, she adds.
Since he’s got four months and one vaccination under his belt, Harreman’s son should be able to fight off the illness, the mother writes. “There is no real way to treat it. You can only try and get some oxygen in them. That is if they breathe it in, and they have to do that all on their own,” she says. “Imagine that in a tiny newborn baby. Can you imagine?!”
Harreman writes that she was inspired to post the video in hopes of spreading “awareness… not nonsense,” in the wake of 10 children in her city contracting whooping cough in the past six weeks, according to 9 News Australia. Queensland Health, the government organization that operates the state’s health care system, issued an alert on its Facebook page on Sunday. “An increased number of whooping cough (Pertussis) cases have been recently diagnosed in the greater Brisbane area, with a number of babies afflicted with the disease,” the alert says. “Metro South Health public health physician Dr. Kari Jarvinen says the number of whooping cough cases in the Brisbane area has been relatively low for the past year or two, so this increase is particularly concerning. Dr. Jarvinen says vaccination is the ONLY effective way to minimize the risk of whooping cough, with most hospitalizations and deaths occurring in babies less than six months old. He recommends all people in contact with small children be up-to-date with their vaccination or risk passing it on.”
In her post, Harreman admits that she’s exhausted and scared, as any mom would be. “I’m tired. Damn tired. I’ve been on duty for over 3 weeks having to wake every single time my baby boy coughs for fear he will stop breathing. Every. Single. Time,” she writes. “I cannot and will not pass that duty to anyone else, because I just can’t sleep.”
Commenters on the video are supporting Harreman’s message. “You’re a brilliant mother and I’m sorry the negligence of others is causing this heartbreaking illness in your son,” writes one user. “Cannot stress the importance enough. Get your kiddos vaccinated, if for no other reason than to save them from this,” added another user who shared the post.
For those who don’t vaccinate their kids, or themselves, Harreman hopes her video will serve as an eye opener. “I don’t care whether you want to try and prove to me that vaccinations and herd immunities don’t work. I don’t care that vaccinations have side effects, because every person in this world reacts differently to all types of food, products and medicines. I could not care less, even if it is ever proven one day that they don’t work,” she writes. “You know why? Because at least 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.”