Grieving couple warns about the importance of getting a whooping cough vaccine during pregnancy
Is there anything more painful or terrifying for a parent than watching their child struggle with sickness? Imagine that child was just four weeks old and they’d caught a preventable illness. Now imagine you lost that child to that preventable illness. That’s the hell one family went through, which is why they shared a heartbreaking video to help get a powerful message out there: Get the whooping cough vaccine during pregnancy.
Catherine and Greg Hughes of Western Australia shared a video of their son Riley, who died on March 17, 2015 of complications from whooping cough. He was just four weeks old. It’s absolutely devastating to watch their small, beautiful child struggle through coughing fits.
Catherine Hughes posted a note with the video, in which she explained the videos were the last they took of their child before he passed away. She had no idea that a whooping cough vaccine was something she could get during pregnancy, or that it would protect her child against the disease.
She and her husband released the video in the hopes it will reach as many pregnant women as possible and they will choose to vaccinate themselves against the disease while they are pregnant. “I have always kept these videos to myself, as it makes my blood run cold listening to my beautiful boy cough like that,” she writes. “But we are sharing this in the hopes that it will convince just one more pregnant Mum to protect their baby from this disease. I wish I had known about pregnancy vaccination when I was pregnant with Riley.”
The Center for Disease Control recommends pregnant women receive the whooping cough vaccine (Tdap) during the third trimester of each pregnancy, to help protect their newborns against the disease:
“After receiving the whooping cough vaccine, your body will create protective antibodies (proteins produced by the body to fight off diseases) and pass some of them to your baby before birth. These antibodies provide your baby some short-term protection against whooping cough in early life. These antibodies can also protect your baby from some of the more serious complications that come along with whooping cough.”
The CDC reports that your protective antibodies are at their highest about two weeks after getting the vaccine. So “you should get the vaccine late in your pregnancy, preferably during your 27th through 36th week, to give your baby the most protection when she is born.”
“I loved being Riley’s Mum for those four weeks. I wish it were longer,” Hughes wrote. “Please share to help ensure no more babies die from this disease, which I hope one day will be relegated to the history books.”
Warning: contains content some may find very distressing.
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