Mom Shares Heartbreaking Photo of Her Baby as a Warning for Fellow Parents

mom child chicken poxiStock.com/South_agency
If you consider chickenpox a mildly itchy, relatively harmless childhood disease not worth vaccinating against, one heartbroken mom's viral Facebook post might change your mind. Kayley Burke of Queensland, Australia, shared a photo of her 11-month-old son Elijah covered in extremely painful chickenpox sores with the following plea: "Vaccinate your kids people. The pictures below show you exactly why."

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Little Elijah is too young to be vaccinated against chickenpox, unfortunately, which means that his health (and that of countless other babies) relies on everybody else getting vaccinated against such preventable, potentially serious diseases. And because of his age, Elijah is also at a greater risk of suffering complications from chickenpox than older kids; a week after breaking out, he had to be hospitalized with a secondary infection.

Kayley and Elijah's 3-year-old sister Kaliah also contracted the chickenpox, but as Kaliah had recently been vaccinated, she only broke out in a few spots and was otherwise okay (Kayley, on the other hand, called adult chickenpox "horrible and painful").

This photo serves as proof of just how grave this disease can be in little ones (be warned -- it's very upsetting!): 

Kayley Burke/Facebook

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Poor guy!! As a mom, I feel like it just rips me apart to see that boy's face. He must be so incredibly uncomfortable, and he's too little to understand why. And I don't blame Kayley one bit for being furious. While I do understand how scary it can be to vaccinate your kids when there's been so much controversy regarding their safety (I struggled with the decision initially myself), ultimately we're talking about public health here -- and it's not fair to put anybody else's child at risk. These pictures make that abundantly clear.

Another thing these photos make very clear: Chickenpox is no joke. When I was growing up, people talked about chickenpox like it was no big deal, basically like an itchier version of a really bad cold (with the added downside of potential scarring). But yikes! It can be bad, really bad -- in fact, complications include sepsis, pneumonia, and encephalitis. Personally, I've never had it, and so far none of my kids have, either (though the older two have been vaccinated). But I'd like to avoid it!

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I'm not going to go so far as to say anyone who hasn't vaccinated their kid is a "bloody idiot" -- but if my baby were covered in sores like Elijah right now because someone didn't immunize his or her child, well, I would probably change my mind.

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