In recent months, the vaccination debate has really heated up. But now, in an interesting twist, a Canadian mom’s story is going viral after she publicly announced that she was abandoning her anti-vaccination stance after her seven children developed whopping cough. In a personal essay written for The Scientific Parent, Tara Hill outlined how the experience allowed her to open her eyes to the importance of immunization.
In her essay, Hill expressed how her initial suspicions and fear surrounding the medical community prevented her from getting all her children vaccinated. Only three of them are partially immunized, but after having her fourth child, she decided to stop. “We stopped because we were scared and didn’t know who to trust… Were these vaccines even necessary in this day and age? Were we unwittingly doing greater harm than help to our beloved children? So much smoke must mean a fire so we defaulted to the ‘do nothing and hope nothing bad happens’ position,” Hill wrote. “No matter if we vaccinated or not, I thought, it would be nothing more than a coin toss with horrible risks either way.”
But things changed immediately after a family game night, when her children came into contact with her brother-in-law, who had a bad cold at the time. After a few days passed, Hill’s children began to develop a terrible cough that just wouldn’t go away. “My youngest three children were coughing so hard they would gag or vomit. I’d never seen anything like this before,” she wrote. After doing a Google search and discovering her children were most likely experiencing whopping cough, she immediately took them to the hospital, where they confirmed her suspicions.
Although her oldest children are doing much better now, Hill writes that her youngest ones, including her 10-month-old baby, are still struggling through recovery. “For six years we were frozen in fear from vaccines, and now we are frozen because of the disease.”
And although in some ways it’s too little too late for this family, who had to go through a major medical scare to realize this, Hill writes that the takeaway from it all was loud and clear. We all need to vaccinate our children.
“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,” she concludes. “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.”
While everyone has the right to their own opinions, Hill hopes that her experience will help other antivaxxers think long and hard about their decisions—decisions that can have major consequences, especially on the most vulnerable.
We wish Hill and her entire family well on their road to recovery.