Heartbreaking Photo Of Hospitalized Newborn Shows The Importance Of Vaccines

by Cassandra Stone
Image via Alecia Rankin

This photo shows why vaccines are a matter of public safety

There’s nothing more heartbreaking than a sick baby. Especially when that baby is a seven-week-old newborn, enduring a necessary and painful hospitalization because of a rare and dangerous bacterial infection.

Alecia Rankin recently shared a photo of her newborn niece, Aryn, on her Facebook page. The baby was dangerously ill with something called the Hib flu — which is an infection that can be prevented with vaccines.

“Reason #1736493983283763 to vaccinate your kids? My 7 week old niece has HIB flu,” Rankin wrote. “So rare that her doctor hasn’t seen it in her career because this bacteria caused by HIB flu was all but eradicated by vaccines.”

That. Is. Terrifying. Many diseases and illnesses like this one, polio, measles and more are potentially making a “comeback.” Why? Because regardless of the fact that science and the American Academy of Pediatrics stresses the life-saving importance of a set schedule of vaccinations, some parents flat-out refuse.

“I think that there are many people out there that have been impacted by an adverse reaction to a vaccine and that fear has lead them to believe the anti-vaccine ‘hype,” Rankin tells Scary Mommy. “Anything can cause an allergic or adverse reaction and we normally don’t even think about it until it happens. One of my sons is allergic to penicillin, however, I understand this doesn’t happen with everyone and the benefits to most people outweigh the risk. It’s the same concept with vaccines.”

Image via Alecia Rankin

The Centers for Disease Control says that Hib is a type of bacteria that mainly causes illness in babies and young children. Symptoms range from mild — like an ear infection, to severe — a bloodstream infection. The CDC recommends children receive four doses of the Hib vaccine — the first one should be scheduled at two months. Rankin’s niece wasn’t even old enough to receive her first dose yet.

“So before you decide not to vaccinate your children because ‘it’s your choice’ and ‘those who are vaccinated won’t be affected’ remember that babies can get sick before they have the chance to get their vaccine,” Rankin shared.

Rankin said her niece’s symptoms initially presented similar to those of a stomach bug, but the symptoms grew worse instead of better. “They ran blood work and eventually a spinal tap and diagnosed her with Hib,” she says. “She ended up having to have a PICC line because the IV in her head and arm stopped working.”

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services says “community immunity,” or “herd immunity,” is achieved when a critical portion of a community is immunized against a contagious disease. This means most members of the community are protected because there is little chance for an outbreak — even children who can’t get certain vaccines, like babies under two months old or those with allergies, for example, still receive some protection regardless. Because when many people are vaccinated, the spread of contagious disease is contained.

“I fully believe in vaccinating our children and the fact that I had to see my niece in pain and extremely sick from an illness that can be prevented by vaccinations, further solidifies that belief,” Rankin said.

Rankin says Aryn is now, thankfully, at home and doing much better.