Seeing a baby hooked up to oxygen and feeding tubes is totally and completely gut-wrenching for any parent. And as I sat today and watched a news clip about a 4-month-old baby named Everlee who almost died after a bout with whooping cough, I couldn't help but feel my stomach sink a bit. Whooping cough is an "old disease" that we are suddenly hearing about again because more and more parents are refusing to vaccinate their kids. And that's just scary.

Poor little Everlee was just a few weeks shy of receiving her shot against the disease. But a child who was likely un-vaccinated at her 9-year-old sister's school happened to contract whooping cough before that, and the sister likely brought it home on her clothing because of how contagious the disease is, which is how doctors think Everlee probably caught it. And then she wound up in the intensive care unit fighting for her life.

Granted, I realize that there are extremely strong opinions and arguments for why babies shouldn't be immunized, and I'm not trying to discount those or be even remotely insensitive. However, when the health and well being of small children come into play, I just don't see how anyone could not want to protect them from a disease that really shouldn't be floating around anymore at all.

Back in November, someone in my extended family had their 9-year-old son come down with whooping cough, and the whole house wound up getting quarantined. There were several other kids at his school who got it as well -- so it was almost a mini-epidemic. I remember being scared for my son's safety in his own school and I sighed with relief at the fact that he's been vaccinated against whooping cough. Hopefully we won't have to worry about it going forward should it wind up in our town. But young babies who haven't yet had their shot are constantly at risk.

The decision of whether or not to vaccinate is a personal choice, and it's a very passionate debate that isn't going to disappear anytime soon. Unfortunately, however, neither are these kinds of diseases if people keep fighting the vaccines.

Do you think that the risks are higher with diseases like whooping cough, or with the vaccines?

 

Image via Zaldlmg/Flickr