Whooping Cough: Keep it to Yourself

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This is part two of a three-part story about our family’s experience with whooping cough. The first part includes a video of what whooping cough sounds like. The third discusses the difficult vaccination decision and the problem of statistics.

Baby has whooping cough social aspects

When I told my husband that I was writing next about the social aspects of having whooping cough, he said, “Yeah, you’re right, like it was pretty uncomfortable to tell my friend who’s a doctor about our kids having whooping cough.”

Not exactly what I meant.

I was talking about the community part of it, the fact that, as one commenter in this post about vaccines causing peanut allergies put it, “Parents who don’t vaccinate their kids are baby killing nut jobs.”

Um, thank you for your tact there, ma’am, and for discounting the fact that people who are fully vaccinated also contract whooping cough quite readily.

She’s right about one thing though. Kids with whooping cough should not be in contact with little ones under 6 months old, period. Whooping cough is far too likely to be fatal at that age.

There were points when we did feel like we were walking baby-killers.

On Exposing Others

Technically, we didn’t know we had whooping cough until we were already two weeks into it with our youngest two, so we had already unknowingly exposed a lot of people in our day-to-day lives during the time my oldest had it for two weeks before the little ones plus the two weeks the littles were coughing.

After we figured out that we were actually experiencing whooping cough symptoms, we kept the toddler home from church, didn’t go to library, and I let my mother’s helper’s mom know about it as well. Her daughter had already been exposed to it the week before (along with everyone at church and library, technically), but since they had a 3-year-old in their family, she wanted to play it safe and take a week off.

After the third week passed (whooping cough is not supposed to be contagious after 21 days), we stopped doing anything differently because we assumed John, our toddler, wasn’t contagious. When we were four weeks into whooping cough with the little ones, we traveled north to visit my parents. We did the math, knew we were more than 21 days past the onset of the illness, and my parents were okay with us coming. I never gave it another thought.

My big kids were playing with the neighbors, and John was sleeping. I started to say to the mom, “I need to go see if John is waking up from his nap; I know I just put him down, but sometimes he coughs…” I didn’t actually give any explanation, because I started thinking about her 1-year-old daughter, and the fact that when I thought the kids were playing outside at her house the day before, they had ended up inside the house. If Leah, my middle child who barely seemed sick anymore, happened to still be contagious, we had already exposed their family.

I should have given them the choice. I should have been up front about the whooping cough, explained that we were fairly certain no one was contagious anymore, perhaps assured her that John didn’t need to come over himself, and allowed them to make their own decisions on their level of risk.

Once I had already exposed their family, though, I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t tell her about the whooping cough, just excused myself to check on a sleeping toddler. She understood; she’s a mom too. She’s a mom who should have been told about this disease, and I wasn’t thinking about it in that light. I wasn’t thinking that we could still be sharing it with others, but there’s always a chance. I messed up, and I didn’t know how to unring the bell.

The Vaccinated Neighbors

One family with whom my son spends a lot of time actually did contract whooping cough from him. The boy, my oldest son’s good friend, was mentioning something about a cough at their house when John (the youngest) was having a coughing spell. I thought, “Uh oh, I wonder if they’re vaccinated.”

I talked with the mom on the phone, and once I told her that a major symptom that a nagging cough is actually whooping cough is that the child doesn’t cough for a very long time, then has a nasty coughing fit, she said, “Yes, that does sound like what’s going on, and the coughing is pretty bad – twice he’s actually coughed so hard he threw up.”

My heart sank.

“Oh dear…yeah, he definitely has whooping cough,” I had to tell her. “I’m so sorry we shared…”

She was very gracious and said that kids will get sick, that’s how kids are. Her sons were both fully vaccinated for their ages, and in fact my son’s buddy would have likely just recently had his kindergarten booster within the last 12-18 months. Yet he still got a case of whooping cough bad enough to make him vomit twice, which is worse than my middle daughter who had only two of her five required shots. From what I understand, the 2-year-old brother did not get the cough.

The Babies at Church

I’m not actually sure where this story fits in the timeline, but it happened sometime after the three weeks were up but before John was feeling much better.

We went to church and sat in the back so I could run to the bathroom if he had “an episode,” but we had a one-year-old and two newborn twins behind us and little ones who couldn’t have been completely vaccinated all around.

I was on pins and needles the whole Mass, so glad when John spent half of it nursing under the sling. I kept rereading in  my head the explanation that it takes direct contact with mucus from the child coughing to actually contract the disease, telling myself that John couldn’t share whooping cough with these little angels as long as he was with me, on my lap. In spite of that, I was having Mommy-daymares about reading a newspaper headline about the death of two local newborn twins from pertussis. I did a lot of praying that morning, to be sure,and I still feel awful about it.

Once he was up, I walked away with him, but it really brought into sharp perspective the idea of the global society, the Body of Christ, the ramifications of each decision we make reaching far beyond our own family. This experience throws into the unknown all the vaccination decisions we have made (more in a future post on how we’re dealing with that).

The Elderly Great-Grandparents

My grandparents are 87 years old, in very good health for their age, still living on their own, and smart as two tacks.

We were actually visiting their house when our two little ones showed symptoms of big brother’s cough for the first time, right when all three were likely highly contagious but a good two weeks before we figured out what was going on. (We thought our oldest just had a weird cough – remember that whooping cough gives major reprieves, four and five hours without a single cough. Our active 8-year-old boy was living life as usual, and as far as visiting the grandparents, we figured that his “cold” was no longer contagious since it was two weeks in.)

Once the whooping cough situation was clear, I was terrified for my grandparents.

I called my mom right away after we figured out the symptoms of whooping cough, and I asked her if she knew if my grandparents had colds. I figured if they had been exposed, and if they were going to contract the disease, they would be showing cold symptoms by then or within a few days. My mom said she’d talk to them, and I assumed she’d tell them what was going on.

When it was time to get together as an extended family again at their house, this time 4-5 weeks after the onset of symptoms in the younger two, I didn’t give it a second thought, since (a) we’d been living our “new normal” for so long, I wasn’t being careful anymore, and because (b) we thought they weren’t contagious at all after 21 days, and (c) I knew they’d already been exposed and thought they knew the story.

Turns out my mom had only checked to make sure they were healthy but didn’t tell them about the whooping cough, because she didn’t want to worry them. I had assumed, and I was wrong.

Before we went to my grandparents’ to stay a few nights, we saw them at a family picnic for a few hours. Imagine my middle-aged aunt’s surprise when she was giving me a break by taking John for a walk and he had a whooping cough attack. It sounds so scary, she thought he was having an asthma attack or choking. When my older son casually said, “Oh no, he has whooping cough,” it didn’t really make her feel any better, thinking of her 87-year-old parents sitting a few yards away.

She got on her smart phone immediately and started looking things up. Without knowing how long he’d had it, they understandably became very worried and distressed.

I’m not even sure how to describe the situation but to say that it was a mess.

Since I had wrongfully assumed that people knew what was going on, of course it felt like our family had been covert or sneaky and was unfairly exposing other people to a pretty nasty contagious disease, and my aunt and uncle were planning to visit another relative of theirs with an infant baby the following week. They were very concerned and agitated, with good reason.

After profuse apologies on the phone (I didn’t know about all this until that evening after the kids went to bed), more research on both sides (I was horrified to read that some kids are contagious for up to 6 weeks – on a site I had read thoroughly previously but apparently neglected to remember that part), and lots of conversation with my mom about the awful gamble both sides are taking (vaccinating and not vaccinating), I left the ball in their court about whether or not they were comfortable with us visiting that week or not, and they also needed to call my cousins, who have children ages 8 and 3, and let them make the same informed decision.

Writing all this, it sounds like I was being irresponsible with whooping cough. How rude and selfish to presume that it would be okay to go to someone’s house and stay a few nights with other children around and a clear case of whooping cough!

I shake my head at myself in retrospect, but truly, I just wasn’t thinking that way. Once the 21 days had passed, we were moving on with our lives as though nothing was wrong, even though John was still vomiting multiple times a day for the next week solid. It was at about four weeks that he finally started getting much better, to the point where most coughs lasted only 5-10 seconds and did not include vomiting (at least during the day).

When you’re in the middle of a situation, something you don’t think from an outsider’s perspective. We were just taking it one day at a time, making decisions based on what we knew. We weren’t doing any more research, because everything we had discovered in our initial foray stated that no treatments really help whooping cough, so we felt we had nothing more helpful to learn.

At the point of 4+ weeks when we were doing this traveling, I must tell you, it was clear to us that he was much, much better, but the coughs still sounded so terrible that we caught everyone’s attention when they happened in public. I felt like we should have put signs on him like the scarlet letter A: “I have whooping cough, but don’t worry, I shouldn’t be contagious. I just sound like I’m dying.”

At the same time, I didn’t want people to know.

There was a level of embarrassment there, since whooping cough is a preventable disease.* I felt as though we’d be judged for making a grievous error and being irresponsible with our child’s health, much like I might look down my nose at someone smoking a cigarette in a vehicle full of children. We made an informed decision on vaccines, knowing we were taking a risk, and even though many, many fully vaccinated children also contract whooping cough, the general public doesn’t usually view it that way.

Edit: A few in the comments wondered what I meant by “preventable disease” when I also clearly state that vaccinated kids get whooping cough. It’s really more of a “perceived preventable disease.” The general population believes it is preventable, so as far as how people are going to react to our family having it, the stigma is there even though the facts don’t support it.

I hadn’t ever mentioned it on social media yet, either, even though the rest of my life, from what we eat for dinner to the laundry baskets lining my hallways to the antibiotics we take and do not take, is usually displayed via blog posts and Facebook with all its authentic and humiliating details. I couldn’t talk about this yet. It was too raw, too uncomfortable, too sensitive…and yes, too embarrassing to begin to broach the subject. So I didn’t. I couldn’t, even though it dominated our lives for weeks on end.

Now that I’m working through the comments on yesterday’s post and the Facebook thread, I wish I had said something. A handful of readers have mentioned the Vitamin C treatment for whooping cough, which I haven’t even had time to read about yet. I mentioned it to my husband, who said wisely, “And then we would have had to research that, likely finding conflicting information on both sides, and making another tough decision about what to do. It’s not like mega doses of a vitamin were found in foods traditionally. You can’t eat that many oranges…”

We didn’t do much other than rest, liquids, a vaporizer with essential oils, and attempts at the steam treatment like we did to naturally treat pneumonia. We also tried to help our 5-year-old daughter breathe all her air out during a coughing spasm, like this description. It really did relieve some of the intensity of the coughing. Even the almost-2-year-old started to try exhaling during the coughs with some success.

In Closing: The Risks of Whooping Cough Being Contagious

The CDC says in this PDF that whooping cough is contagious when he has cold symptoms and for 2 weeks after the coughing starts. The State of New York health department and my own local health department both state 3 weeks.

We had done the math. We were trying not to spread the disease, once we knew about it. We certainly were not trying to risk others’ health or lives over visiting in a social situation. We also became comfortable with the “new normal” and were probably a bit less vigilant than we should have been once the 3-4 weeks passed.

Whooping cough is most risky for infants under 6 months and the elderly, those who most often have secondary complications from the cough which can be very serious, even leading to death (1 in 100 infants die, a statistic I plan to unpack a bit in a future post).

We as a country vaccinate our kids mostly to protect others (babies) from possible death, not to protect the child receiving the vaccine, although most agree that the vaccines reduce the symptoms and likelihood of complications.

I will always wonder if my kids had differing severity based on their ages and general immune system strength or if it was a direct correlation between the numbers of pertussis vaccinations they received. My oldest, with 4 shots, had the least severe reactions, my middle with 2 shots, worse than  her older brother but much milder than her younger, unvaccinated brother. We’ll never know for sure if there’s some sort of partial immunity that we participated in, or if it’s all the luck of the draw. Our neighbor with 5 vaccines seemed to have a bit worse time of it than my daughter, so there’s no perfect system.

Now that my kids have had pertussis, they are much more immune than even fully vaccinated kids (but still not 100%, which is aggravating). We got through it, and it wasn’t great, but I’m sure it won’t be the hardest thing we’ll ever encounter as a family.

This will sound crazy, but I’m actually thankful that God granted us this cross. I feel like other people need to understand what they’re risking when they don’t vaccinate against pertussis, and I have the ability and the platform from which to share.

I am not saying that everyone should vaccinate their children, however. I’m just the information sharer, and each parent needs to make their own informed decision about what they put in their children’s bodies. It is far from easy, and in fact one of the few parts about parenting that we rank as more difficult than disciplining our strong-willed children.

More in the next post on our thoughts now on vaccines, plus my conversation with the health department…

UPDATE: Here’s that post on the accuracy of vaccination and disease statistics.

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73 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. Amy says

    You say that whooping cough is preventable, but yet you can still get even if you are vaccinated? That is quite a paradox and does not even make any sense. Can you clarify that?

    Why do we as parents (I am guilty) think we need to go out when our children are still “sick”?

    We were frowned upon when my three youngest got chicken pox. The oldest did not get it because she was vaccinated. Yet, we got exposed from a cousin who was vaccinated and got chicken pox. He contracted from a girl who had just gotten the chicken pox vaccine the same day they played together.

    All of these things make vaccines look not so convincing, yet none of us likes to look we are endangering others.

    • Amanda says

      There is more than one strain of pertussis and only one is in the vaccine. There is a theory, which I believe is accurate, that the vaccine is actually causing the proliferation of the other strain. In addition, the pertussis vaccine is one of the least effective, with only a 50-50 shot of working as intended for the strain that is targeted.

    • says

      The others are right in that the pertussis vaccine doesn’t do its job very well. I should have written “perceived preventable disease,” because the general population believes it is preventable, so as far as how people are going to react to our family having it, the stigma is there even though the facts don’t support it. I hope that makes a ton more sense than zero! :) Katie

  2. Karen says

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I agree there are risks to consider with not vaccinating. Babies and elderly can die from some of these diseases. It is something to think about. But then the possibility of autism, Guillain-Barre, and other things is scary too. I have chosen to vaccinate, weighing the risks either direction.

  3. MJ says

    Wow, talk about putting yourself out there. Brave.
    Two days before I found out that my 4 yr old had whooping cough, we exposed three babies in a playroom setting. I notified them all right away and they talked with their Dr.s and any sign of a cold, they were to get an antibiotic… Yes, felt guilty. It looked like a cold, so what can you do… Especially since you pointed out that kids who are vaccinated get WC and it is being argued that those who are vaccinating are the ones introducing it into society. We have been self quarantined for over 3 weeks now and we have even had anti biopics, which they say will eliminate the contagiousness, however we are always around little ones, so I’m not taking the chance. We dropped out of all activities and I am going stir crazy but I truly believe this was just what God had planned for us and I am also trying to use this to grow spiritually.

  4. Anitra says

    Thank you for writing this series. I do vaccinate my children (although now I wish I had delayed a few and refused the varicella/chicken pox one). I used to think that anyone refusing to vaccinate their children was at best selfish and at worst crazy. But that was before I realized that most vaccines don’t protect 100% (as you mentioned) and some haven’t been fully tested for long-term immunity (varicella). I’ve always known that vaccinating my children was not so much to protect THEM as it was to protect every other child they come into contact with (and their grandparents and great-grandmother).

    It was really helpful to get an inside look at what can happen if you choose not to vaccinate. It’s bad, but as you pointed out, it can still happen even with vaccinations, and it’s survivable. I think we forget sometimes that most vaccines are for diseases that CAN be mild, and 50 or 60 years ago, people just suffered through them. I think vaccines are part of our always-on-the-go lifestyle these days. Because who has time for days or weeks of quarantine to avoid exposing others?

      • Amanda says

        Y’all are so right. Honestly, I think this has a lot to do with it. Chicken pox used to really cause a lot of school absences. Also, I think this applies to antibiotic use. If my child is ill I like to let it ride out, but they would have to stay home. However, it’s fine for them to go to school/daycare if they’ve been on antibiotics for 24 hours. That was actually why I agreed to give my oldest antibiotics for an ear infection! I couldn’t keep him home from daycare. I hate that I did that and we’ve now made arrangements to our lifestyle so that is no longer a factor.

  5. Robin says

    My fully vaccinated, very healthy daughter had whooping cough in 5th grade. I didn’t figure out what she had until after it was over, but it lasted a long time! In china they call it the 100 Day Cough. I did, at the time, consider that symptomatically it seemed just like whooping cough, but thought that couldn’t be possible because she was vaccinated. I let her continue going to school except for a few days when she felt lousy.

  6. Jacqueline says

    I admire your vulnerability in sharing this! It really is hard to know what the right thing to do is sometimes, and it’s even harder when you’re bucking the tide and not doing what the rest of the world is doing.

  7. Carolyn S. says

    Bravo, Katie, for choosing to be transparent. Thanks for sharing your story and ‘thank you’ to your husband for allowing you. Looking forward to your next post.

  8. Julie says

    A very important note based upon our own experiences: My son came down with a pertussis-like illnesses right around 6 months before his pertussis vaccine was due for a booster. Our pediatrician had us take him to a testing lab (at the time, there was only site that tested for it in our area) because if our son had tested positive, the CDC would have to be notified so that official protocols could be followed at his school, my youngest’s preschool, etc. so that people who may have been exposed could monitor their loved ones health carefully. Official reporting needs to happen so that schools, churches, even places of employment (since grown-ups can have pertussis without knowing it) can sterilize the environment, etc. It is not enough for the parents of the sick children to decide when and if to self-quarantine. Especially since infected people are contagious before they know what they have and people with infants, elderly family members or those who are immuno-compromised need the opportunity to get to their health care providers for monitoring and early treatment, if needed, as soon as possible. And of course, the CDCs standards for quarantine should be strictly adhered to so as to avoid further community exposure.

    • jill says

      Not sure where you are, but no drs. in ca or hi would test for it. So, we felt that all the kids/grandkids were walking timebombs so to speak. Plus, the daycare also does not care. They allow sick kids unless there is a fever. So, if you hear of outbreaks in those states, that could explain it.

      • Julie says

        We lived in Indiana at the time. None of the doctors’ offices did the test there either. There was one lab. We traveled to it for a simple nose swab. Had it been positive, the lab would have notified the doctor’s office and the CDC and we would have had to fill out information regarding places we may have been and people we may have exposed.

  9. caroline says

    This reminds me of a babysitting job I had one time. I was watching the 9 year old down the street and we decided to go to my house and play on the slip and slide. Well she went upstairs to put on her suit and a couple minutes later came down to show me that she was covered in spots (chicken pox). I had taken her to the doctor’s office with me earlier that day and we were in the ‘well patient’ room. I immediately called the office to let them know that all those kids in the room with us had been exposed to chicken pox and the receptionist wouldn’t do anything. She didn’t even call the parents to warn them. I felt awful.
    I don’t know how chicken pox differs from whooping cough in severeness but I know it is also not good for babies or elderly to be exposed to it. If anything in your situation I would say some of the ‘blame/guilt’ rests on your mom for not telling her parents why she was asking if they were sick. You truly thought that your kids weren’t contagious anymore and you did at least try to notify those that may have been exposed. People are so sensitive today it gets really annoying. Your family is proof that the vaccine is not 100% effective since Paul was vaccinated and Leah was partially vaccinated yet they still got sick. Who knows if that helped them so they had milder cases or if it was an age thing, or maybe John is just more prone to respiratory diseases or something, especially since he had the two bouts of pneumonia. My brother was one of the kids that picked up EVERYTHING whether it was a cold or chicken pox. It doesn’t have anything to do with what you feed them, whether or not you vaccinate, etc. Yes those things can certainly help a child not get sick but it doesn’t always work. In my bro’s case he and I ate the same things, if anything he was in better ‘shape’ then me because he has always been very athlethic and a skinny guy and I am a major klutz, unathlethic and have always been overweight even as a child when my diet ws controlled by my parents – no soda, not much junk food, etc. etc.

    • says

      Chicken pox is hardly ever serious. Also, it is spread by droplets, so if the child was not coughing, just sitting in a room with other kids, they were unlikely to have been exposed. I imagine that’s why the nurse wasn’t going to call the other parents.

  10. Sarah says

    Amazing, heart-wrenching story, Katie. Thank you for your transparency. One thing you said caught my eye. You said whopping cough is a preventable disease. How do you come to that conclusion? It’s my understanding that the vaccine isn’t 100% effective (either a little or a lot depending on whom you listen to) and so if you’re going to be an active member of society, it’s practically impossible to ensure that your kids WON’T get it if they are exposed. The germs are out there – if they find their way to you, you’re going to get sick. Am I misunderstanding something?

    Thanks again for such a detailed post and exploring these unpleasant aspects of the illness. I’ll bet you’re glad it’s over!

    • says

      Sarah – good point – I should have said “perceived preventable disease.” The general population believes it is preventable, so as far as how people are going to react to our family having it, the stigma is there even though the facts don’t support it. Thanks for pointing that out! :) Katie

  11. Kimberley Alger says

    I am an RN and when I had my son, the other RN’s guilted me into getting vaccinated. I had a horrible reaction but felt like I had done the right thing. So I was immunized and my son was also immunized and I nursed him and still we BOTH got pertussis. The public needs to know immunizations or the lack there of are not as black and white as the CDC would like us to believe. I feel for you and what you went through. Thanks for you candidness is sharing. My son gets no immunizations now, as I believe his Asperger’s is a direct result of shots.

    • jill says

      Kimberly, at least you know and understand. I just was reading about the GAP’s protocol/diet and how it may help with your situation. Although I’m sure you probably already know. My heart goes out to you on this. Whenever our kids have problems, so many of us backtrack, trying to figure out what caused it, and whether we were to blame. We have to also realize, that we did the best we could with the knowledge we possessed at the time. I just wish I knew “then” what I know now. Don’t we all.

  12. Jessica says

    We had whooping cough last year, and it was much milder than your case. My baby was three months old, and barely had a cough (unvaccinated), my 6 year old coughed mildly for a month or so (he was fully vaccinated) and my then 4 year old never coughed at all (partially vaccinated). The baby did tend to cough the rest of the winter with any cold, but still not severely. We didn’t vaccinate him, and we were treated like pariahs. It is so sad the prejudice against those who choose not to vaccinate.

    I have a now 5 year old son who has a life threatening nut allergy. To me, it is then a question of if I am going to further experiment on their immune systems, since allergies aren’t at all understood at this time in history. So I think it’s up to me to decide what side of the risk line I have to fall on (because it’s really just a question of risk management: is the vaccine or the disease more of a risk … for my child at this time in his life?) For us, his food allergy (of unknown cause) is more threatening than any of the childhood diseases around right now.

    Otherwise loving and good people give up all their virtue and manners when it comes to families who choose not to vaccinate, and it’s really unfair and unnecessarily judgmental. Can’t people realize they are each trying to do the best they can for their children?

    The other family I know that got pertussis are all VERY fully vaccinated. People often blame the unvaccinated for contaminating the vaccinated, but that makes no sense. So you, and my family have to feel guilty and secretive when we get a disease, and people who do vaccinate get to feel smug and blaming (hopefully they don’t) and not guilty at all. It’s a bit messed up really.

    • Jessica says

      I also meant to say, you are SO right, and it’s not all about the parent and child themselves … and we avoided people for the phase we were told to (and even took the antibiotics .. we weren’t allowed back to school for over a month PAST the 21 days if we were to refuse the antibiotic).

      But when deciding to vaccinate, I would love to try to keep the community in mind, but with what I perceive are the unknown risks of the vaccine, I can’t rightfully vaccinate knowing my kids are prone to such severe allergies (and some other issues). I also would recommend other people don’t vaccinate also … I don’t expect the rest of the world to get vaccinated to protect me and my kids. I expect them to do whatever they choose for their own family.

  13. Debbie says

    Thanks you for your courage, open-mindedness, and humility. Your writing on this subject has made me think from some fresh perspectives, and also feel less alone with our family’s thoughts, decisions, and struggles. I wish more people could talk about this subject without fear of being attacked by either side. I hope you receive enough positive comments and support that you continue to feel free to share these and other thoughts …….

  14. Cherie says

    Older children and adults are often misdiagnosed by professional MD’s with bronchitis and then unknowingly spread it as the incubation and contagious periods are different. I can attest to the fact that the Vitamin C protocol removed almost all symptoms immediately even in infants. Infants die from the symptoms not from the bacteria. The toxins that the bacteria produce cause the symptoms. Symptoms can last up to 100 days. If your symptoms are still there then there must be toxins being produced by the bacteria? There are no good studies I could find that prove the contagious period with or without antibiotics. Mothers that have had pertussis have a higher level of immunity and can pass that immunity on to their nursing babies. Therefore, if when my teenage daughter caught it (immunized) then my 6 week infant would have had immunity because she was nursing. But I couldn’t provide that for her because being immunized myself I didn’t have full immunity I could pass on. We made it through it and decided to quarantine for 9 weeks! Better safe than sorry. Like when we used to want our young children to get chicken pox when it wouldn’t be as severe, teenage girls who have the ability to contract pertussis can develop strong immunity which they can in turn protect their nursing infants with. It is only the infants that are at high risk. Then we can afford true protection and not compound the problem with autism, guillaine barre etc…

  15. Melissa says

    So sorry to hear of your family’s battle with Whooping Cough. I am not a believer in vaccines, as they have gone through the roof with the number of vaccines they recommend. I do not believe God built such a complex system as the human body for it to be ransacked with man-made dormant viruses that do not have a clear track record. Introducing ANY foreign substance into the body CANNOT be a sure thing when God made EVERY living thing to be different. I am not like you, and You not like me. The same goes with our children. There is no testing done on the specific genetic make up of YOUR child to know if a vaccine would pose a risk or not. No fault is landed on ANYONE when something wrong happens to a child after vaccinations. It is as if the CDC is promoting these but says in the fine print, “Anything that happens to your child after administering this vaccine into their body is on you as a Parent. Any wrong that occurs after the vaccination we are not responsible for.” If it is something recommended, then ALL of the responsibility should be on the shoulders of the creator of that vaccine. Who gets sued when a pharmaceutical drug is found to cause death, impairment, or other horrible complication? The creator of the drug who said it was safe in the first place. In the Western World it is a mindset of “test it, THEN if it is bad we will pull it” never is it, “Make sure it is thoroughly tested before introducing it to the masses”.
    What did our Forefathers do when THEY were faced with sickness in the home? Just as it was previously commented, in the on-the-go society that the world has come to, it is go along and keep going to make the money & keeping up with the grind.
    I know I don’t always agree with you Katie on everything, but I have learned a lot from you and I appreciate your sharing of your personal life in such a candid & raw way. It is NEVER easy on ANY parent to make tough decisions for their family & children, but you have done a fine job so far and remember we are ALL in this together! We are all connected♥

    • Heather says

      When our forefathers were faced with illnesses such as pertussis and smallpox, etc., they died. Hundreds of thousands perished, in fact. The advantage of medicine such as antibiotics and vaccines is that many of these diseases can be made preventable or eliminated completely. Whether you choose to believe this or not, science has proven to be effective and, if you want to insert religion into the discussion, many scientists believe they are carrying out god’s work. Opting out is a form of natural selection. The sad part is that children are subjected to parental beliefs instead of life-saving science, and perish needlessly.

  16. Anya494 says

    Thank you for sharing your story. As I’ve read both your posts, the thing that stands out to me is you’ve mentioned John has had pneumonia twice, already. Is he perhaps just more sensitive to these respiratory germs?

    In the year 2009 about 9,000 children died in vehicle accidents. From the years 2004-2011, 159 children died from pertussis (19.875/year). Sorry, but sickness is part of life because we live in a fallen world. No matter how emotional your story is, these numbers cannot convince me to vaccinate my children, especially when vaccinated children get pertussis as well!! If the number risks from this make me go out and vaccinate, then I’d better walk to the doctor rather than drive. Although, that wouldn’t guarantee safety because in 2010, 1 in 5 child vehicular deaths were children pedestrians!

    • Laura N says

      Very good comment! Also, I’ve known 3 families who got pertussis and the ones who got the worst case were the oldest child in each family, the ones who were vaccinated.

    • kemilie says

      I believe there’s really no logical reason to compare stats on vehicle accidents to stats on immunizations, where is the correlation??? I’m sure you put your child in a car seat, don’t drive after drinking, and obey traffic laws. You are making your best faith effort to ensure safety for you AND those around you! Vaccinations are the way we do the same with highly contagious diseases.

      But using vehicle stats as an example reason not to vaccinate?? It would be just as “reasonable” to state you don’t believe in gun safety b/c accidental gun use only kills 124 kids a year. So if you’re going to drive in vehicles which are statistically more likely to kill you… why bother keeping the gun locked up?

      Obviously a ridiculous correlation. We try to protect our kids and others as best as we can against ALL types of threats.

      If you’re going to try and draw some comparison between vehicle and pertussis stats then consider that ~ 8,000 people a year died from pertussis before vaccinations became common. And if the alarming new trends to not vaccinate continue I’m sure the number of deaths from pertussis related side effects will increase again.

      • says

        I think what Anya is trying to say is that we DO take a known risk when buckling our kids in a carseat, so we know we can’t protect our kids from everything…but we try to protect them when we can, which includes from the adverse effects of vaccines themselves. It’s not like parents who don’t vaccinate are embracing the disease; they’re seeing it as less of a risk than a vaccine injury, for which there is no seatbelt. That’s all. It wasn’t a direct correlation I’m sure.

        Thanks for stopping by:

  17. Laura N says

    Very interesting! Thanks for sharing. If you aren’t familiar with Young Living oils or Native American Nutritionals oils, I’d get some quick for John. I just discovered them in the last few months. My little guy with Down Syndrome has had the flu once and croup twice. I had YL thieves oil for the first 2 and I know it helped. The 2nd case of croup was soooo mild because I jumped on it the first time I heard a bark! I used RC and Thiesves oil blends by YL that time. I did not hold back in applying the oils and diffusing with the 2nd croup. I figured it’s safer than steroids and antibiotics. It was almost nothing! What a relief to know there’s something that works! Anyway, I’m going to oil-testimonials.com to look up pertussis right now! I want to be prepared for this!

  18. Richelle says

    My daughter got whooping cough when she was a year old. No one else in our family got it. All kids are vaccinated for it. It was quite the commotion. The county nurse calling us and we had to call EVERYONE who came in contact with her for the previous 3 weeks. It was crazy. What about all the people at the grocery store and other public places I had been? Doc advised every single person who came in contact with her be put on meds just in case. Some of my family’s doctors said it was up to them if they wanted to be put on antibiotics. So it varies across the board what doctors decide to do. My husband almost couldn’t board a very important flight out of the state. Whenever I talked with the nurses on the phone I felt like I was in the movie Outbreak. They always sounded so panicky. Not one person had cold symptoms except my son who was 3 so I’m assuming everyone was ok. One thing I remember the nurse saying was that even if people had no symptoms that they still needed the meds because they could be carriers. Not sure the truth to that, but it’s what she said. I’m crossing my fingers that it doesn’t happen again. PS, thank you for your honesty! Very brave indeed.

  19. Laurel says

    I am so grateful you are blogging about this. Your writing voice is real, raw and very easy to relate to for me. I stopped vaccinating my 2 kids around MMR time (one had that one, one didn’t) and we claim religious exemption in our public school. We had to homeschool (3rd grade and 6th grade) for 8 days last fall for the first time because of one case of confirmed pertussis in the school (not in either child’s class, nor on their bus.) It really hit me that our choice is full of consequences that get harder to take the older the kids get. Now that the oldest is in middle school, missing 1-4 weeks of school would be devastating for her. I’m waiting for your next blog…

  20. Carrie says

    Thank you Katie for sharing your story. I know it was not easy, but it is very enlightening in light of the fact that I do not vaccinate. I admire your courage!

  21. Holly says

    Vaccines are a complicated thing. Vaccinations work in 2 ways: on an individual basis and a group basis, otherwise known as herd immunity. While it varies by disease, herd immunity works when a certain percentage of the population has been vaccinated. That is why polio has been all but eliminated–but see recent developments in Syria to see what happens when the percentage of vaccinated people dips below the minimum. Pertussis in the US is another example of this–there are many areas in the US where the percentage of the vaccinated public has gotten too low to achieve herd immunity and unfortunately, it is beginning to make a comeback. There are other issues with pertussis specifically–a change in the vaccine given that many say is not as effective and does not last as long (but has fewer side effects). What makes pertussis potentially so deadly is exactly what you pointed out in the beginning of your story–it starts out exactly like a cold and you really have no way to realize it isn’t a run of the mill cold. And during those 2 weeks, undoubtedly you are exposing many others, including babies and elderly or immunosuppressed people. And seemingly unfairly, your best chance at antibiotics working are during that same time period. Go to a doctor during that time period and you will not be tested for pertussis as a matter of course. Anyway. I also have to bring up the argument that vaccinated people contract diseases anyway. That is true though in the bigger picture it is far less likely to happen to someone who is vaccinated vs someone who is not. We are all individuals with different health strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has a different individual immune response to vaccines–some greater than others, some people’s immunity wanes faster than others, some are more prone to certain types of diseases. Those are just a few reasons why you may have a fully vaccinated person contract a particular disease. It is in no way, to me at least, a reason to not vaccinate. To me, vaccinating is important not only for our personal protection but also for our community’s protection as well. You point out, “the idea of the global society, the Body of Christ, the ramifications of each decision we make reaching far beyond our own family.” and to me this means we have a responsibility to vaccinate against at least the worst diseases. I understand there are specific reasons not to vaccinate and I don’t necessarily believe in all vaccinations (e.g. the flu shot) but by and large, I do believe in vaccinations.

    • Andrea says

      “I also have to bring up the argument that vaccinated people contract diseases anyway. That is true though in the bigger picture it is far less likely to happen to someone who is vaccinated vs someone who is not.”
      Perhaps this is true for some diseases, but it seems clear that this does not apply to Pertussis–the majority are people who have been vaccinated!
      You also say”there are many areas in the US where the percentage of the vaccinated public has gotten too low to achieve herd immunity and unfortunately, it is beginning to make a comeback.” Again this might make sense to me if the majority of people contracting this disease were unvaccinated, but they are not.

      Also, I am curious how we know for sure that Pertussis has made a comeback because the overall rate of vaccinating has declined? (The first rule of statistics is correlation does not equal causation.) This sounds like a good theory to support vaccinations…BUT is it possible that we have compromised the herd’s immune systems through vaccinations? Is it possible that through repeated and extensive vaccinations, we have created “super bugs” that are now responsible for the more aggressive strains of Pertussis?
      I don’t mean to be confrontational, but these are the things I wonder about when faced with the vaccination rhetoric.

      • Holly says

        The CDC states that an unvaccinated child is 8 times more likely to contract pertussis than a child who has been vaccinated. The CDC also addresses the idea of a super bug. They do track the strains of infection and while they do not go into detail they say that changes in the strains of infection do not seem to be causing these outbreaks. I would think–although this is pure conjecture–that there would be other signs of a super bug–more severe symptoms and more resistance to antibiotics but I don’t truthfully know. In terms of why more vaccinated people than unvaccinated people catch pertussis during an outbreak, (supposedly) once the vaccination rate dips below 90%, a community is at risk for an outbreak as herd immunity has no longer been achieved. So most of the population can still be vaccinated and an outbreak can occur. Let’s say 70% are vaccinated-the population of vaccinated people is still much larger than the population–but you may have vulnerable people within that population–immunocompromised people, people who did not have a good immunological response to the vaccine, people whose immunity have worn off. Because the population is so much larger you will have a larger number of vaccinated becoming infected. However, what becomes important is not the actual numbers of people infected in each population but the rates at which infection occur in each population. And we know from the 2010 California outbreak, that those who were not vaccinated were 8 times more likely to contract pertussis than those who were. I am in no way saying that there are not questions and accountabilities that need to take place with vaccines. I do think for the most part that vaccines are an important tool in our overall health. But like most things today, sometimes we take things too far–perhaps we don’t need flu shots, or chicken pox shots or several other vaccines for less serious diseases. Can we alter our immune system with too many vaccines? I think that’s definitely a possibility. So just because I believe in the effectiveness of vaccines in general does not mean that I think we should just accept every new vaccine we are told to take without first scrutinizing what the negative outcomes may be. I think vaccines are complicated and while its clear (to me) that they have all but eradicated serious diseases like polio, I don’t think that we should vaccinate against every imaginable disease.

  22. Kellie says

    Oh Katie! I sorta wish we could hang out. :) You have such a kind heart. You are graceful and humble. This post highlights these beautiful characteristics well. I can see God’s pleasure in your servitude and kindness. Thank you for being brave and sharing this with the world.

  23. Blessed Mama says

    My husband had whooping cough a few years back… when he was working as a server at a restaurant and as a children’s ministry director at our church. We believe he picked it up as a server… anyway, he was feeling kind of yucky shortly before kids’ camp and went to the doctor… was told his cough was just part of bronchitis… was given meds and told he would be fine to head to camp. He got worse. A large number of the kids came home sick (particularly the boys he roomed with)… all but one of those kids were vaccinated and up to date. Numerous doctor visits, chest x-rays, med changes, and a change of doctors later… blood work showed high levels of antibodies even though he hadn’t been vaccinated in at least 15 years. We felt awful!! My husband tried to do the right thing… he went to the doctor BEFORE camp to make sure he was NOT contagious… Fortunately for our own family, he was the only one to get it (our kids were fully vaccinated, but we did have a baby at that time!) So, now that we are questioning the need for so many vaccinations (and their ingredients & side effects), my husband stands firm about that shot… the kids WILL get it. Why? As a server, he couldn’t work… even after the contagious period had passed… I mean, would you want your server to start a long drawn out hacking cough out of the blue while bringing your food?… He threw out a rib while having one of the coughing fits (they were so bad, we were shocked he didn’t break one!) and often coughed to the point of throwing up!! That winter was also VERY rough for him as his lungs were still trying to heal from his bout with WC… he got every respiratory illness that he came into contact with that winter… 😛

    Thanks for sharing your story!! :)

    • says

      Thank YOU for sharing your story too – I am starting to wonder about my philosophy of “we can play with kids who have colds, just not throwing up or fevers,” at least for this winter. I’m nervous for my little one now (who of course has a cold currently, but not too bad). More hand washing!!! :) Katie

  24. jill says

    The problem with whooping cough, is we couldn’t find one dr. to test for it. What happened is this. My youngest daughter was told by her dr. that she had the 100 day cough. I googled, oh yep, whooping cough. On Skype I could tell she felt awful from the coughing fits. Of course, by then, she was past the cold part, and had exposed a pregnant woman, and tons of people. It was too late to stop my other daughter/grandson, they were already on a plane heading over there, to be exposed, in the same house. Well, so a 3 and 4 yr old, and an adult, all exposed. I did frantic research, and sent them to whole foods for vitamin C. They couldn’t get the one I recommended, so got another. I put the girl with the cough on vitamin C to saturation. Simply put, take it until you think your going to poo your pants/race to the bathroom. She did so, and in less than 24 hours, her cough was cut in half. It got better day by day, and she was able to get some sleep. Her little one got a cold, but nothing else. My other daughter/grandson never got more than the sniffles. They were all on vitamin C therapy, no raw milk due to Hawaii being illegal for that. I did send over kefir grains packed in raw milk, which they were drinking, lots of sun and rest.
    I was petrified for the two to come home, I didn’t want to get it. But, no one else did. We are thinking by putting them on a healthy diet, and vitamin C therapy early on, we might have headed it off.
    I do want to say, they called the dr. numerous times, and were told by one nurse, if you were vax’d this wouldn’t be an issue. My daughter told them that two people were exposed and would be getting on a plane back to the mainland, exposing how many people. They didn’t care. No testing. I asked, if drs. don’t test, then how are these statistic always in the news? Hmm, still pondering that. It’s been the case with others here in CA. No drs will test for it.
    It really bothers me, because of any infants that may be exposed.
    Thanks for sharing your story, those of us who’ve been involved in these scenarios know how it feels. We can try and try to do the right thing, but bottom line is it doesn’t always work. Your contagious long before you know you even have it.

    • Jessica says

      That is crazy that they wouldn’t test when you asked them to. We live in Michigan, and our pediatrician tested on his own because he knew there was a case in the area. So the health dept. in our area recorded it and called us daily … so maybe most of the statistics are accurate (I would hope!!)

    • says

      You are one awesome mom and grandmother!! Awesome story! Your wonderings about the statistics are EXACTLY the subject of my next post, since our kids would not have been counted in the stats had I not called it in myself. And how many people would do THAT? :) Katie

      • jill says

        Thank you Katie, I try. I’m glad you are working on that project. It’s been really bugging me since it all happened. I felt so angry at the time over the incident. Plus, they promised they would check the pregnant neighbor, who was exposed, and getting the first part, the cold. My daughter actually drove her, while we all waited for the results. The clinic backed out, and refused to test. Guess Hawaii didn’t want those statistics. I will say also, that it originated on a ship. Went from there to the wives.

  25. Heather says

    A friend shared your blog with me, interesting to read. I have been sick with pertussis since 9/12 and was vaccinated last year on top of my childhood vaccinations. I got it from my boss who had not had any boosters and his neighbors, the nexus of the infection, don’t believe in vaccinations. I cannot tell you how angry I am that I am ill from this disease and that I live in an area where so many opt out. I have been terribly ill and took the proper antibiotics to kill the bacteria once I was diagnosed. I’m just curious why your family did not take antibiotics as soon as you suspected the pertussis infection, this would have completely eliminated any fear you might have had about spreading it after your quarantine period. I was contacted by the Department of Health and was asked to take antibiotics and remained quarantined for 5 days minimum while taking the antibiotic. Unfortunately this doesn’t help with shortening the illness or reducing symptoms, and after returning to work I was not recovering so I’m now on a medical leave to recover before joining the world again. Apparently pertussis victims are very susceptible to flu, pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses so if your doctor didn’t tell you this, you might want to consider limiting your time in public for a few months. I thought I was getting better after 7 weeks but today had several coughing attacks that caused vomiting and worse. I have developed a form of pertussis-related sleep apnea which is terrifying, I can only imagine how scary it is to have young kids with these symptoms. Thinking good thoughts for your family’s recovery.

    • says

      Oh, Heather, what a long struggle. I don’t doubt that you are bitter toward the choice of people you don’t even know who played a role in this suffering for you. I’m so sorry.

      To answer your question, we didn’t take antibiotics because by the time they kicked in, our little ones would have been not contagious anyway, according to the government’s own agencies. So although I’m not completely against antibiotics, I try my best to stay away from them unless absolutely necessary because of the far-reaching negative ramifications they have on the immune system and the gut. An autoimmune disease is in our family, so it’s really important to me to protect my children’s guts as much as possible.

      I know you don’t believe in God, but I hope it doesn’t bother you that I just asked Him to give you peace through the end of your illness, which hopefully is in the home stretch! Katie

  26. Pam says

    Few subjects ignite the Mommy Wars like the subject of vaccinations. Thank you for opening yourself to criticism by pro- and con-vaccinnation people by describing your experience with one of the diseases.

  27. says

    I appreciate you writing this and being so so brave to share. I also appreciate your sharing the true implications of exposing others. Many people who don’t vaccinate are unwilling to truly contemplate what it means to expose at risk individuals to these diseases. I have used a delayed/gentle/Sears influenced vax schedule so I’m not all gung ho for the CDC recommendations, BUT, I have a new perspective on the responsibility we have communally towards providing herd immunity and the reality of living in fear of infection. I recently went through Chemo while pregnant and became an immune suppressed person. Previous to this I didn’t give the at risk populations much thought. Most people don’t. Then I delivered my daughter prematurely and she spent 5 weeks in a NICU. After living for several months with almost NO immune system and having a daughter who was also at risk for infections brought home to me the real risk people pose who don’t consider their responsibility to others when they or their children are sick. I can’t help but get angry when I hear non-vaxing families say “but THAT vaccinated family got it to, but OTHER people get sick to, if OTHERS would only eat right/breastfeed/take cod liver oil, etc. this wouldn’t be an issue.” It IS an issue. There are people who are genuinely at risk for infection. We are real people. Our children are real. We are not a group that you should just wave off so casually when you are weighing the decision to vaccinate or not. I’m not saying everyone should just jump on the CDC bandwagon, but I do wish more families would give more consideration to herd immunity or at least would STAY HOME when they could be carrying something. Katie thank you so much for shedding light on this. You are a brave and humble woman.

  28. jill says

    I also want to mention that the incubation period for whooping cough can be 7 to 10 days, but up to 21 days. So, you could be exposed, and not realize it, and then when you get it, you think you just have a cold but in fact have pertussis. Then, the cough can come at different times. It makes it difficult for people not to be exposed.

  29. Anita says

    I have read these two posts and thought you have been awfully hard on yourself. As far as vaccination rates go for adults, more than 50% of the population isn’t up to date on their vaccines and my understanding is that whooping cough can just seem like a regular cold in adults. This means your child could be exposed to numerous people walking around with whooping cough and not even know it. Like another person posted, the vaccine doesn’t even have a very high success rate.

    People need to remember that vaccines are a chemical stimulation of the immune system. They aren’t natural so how do you know if they will strengthen the immune system’s ability to fight infection, or weaken it? Let’s just say they do work…have we exchanged one epidemic for an autoimmune disease epidemic? My husband has vaccine induced type 1 diabetes that he developed following an MMR shot.

    The immune system is a very complicated thing. Very few doctors even have a vague understanding of immunology so they don’t know how vaccines affect the immune system. They are going by what they were told in medical school-“vaccines are safe and effective”. Well vaccines are neither safe or effective. There is always a risk when taking a vaccine, and there is always a possibility that the vaccine won’t protect you from the disease you are taking it for..it says that on the package insert.

    You said your child had two cases of pneumonia that caused you to delay vaccination. I am almost 40 years old and never had pneumonia. My children never get sick, not even colds. Could it be possible that your child may have a weakened respiratory tract that makes him vulnerable to respiratory illness? Do you think a vaccine full of chemicals, some of which are there to unnaturally stimulate the immune system would have strengthened his immune system or weakened it further?

    Every pharmaceutical company currently contracted by the government have been fined billions of dollars as a result of ongoing felony charges. No one has ever gone to jail for their crimes. Each year they accumulate more charges and pay more fines. Why do they keep doing it? Because it’s profitable. They would rather pay billions in fines than stop their illegal behavior. I wouldn’t choose to do business with companies like this but the US government doesn’t mind. And they are protected against having any liability for vaccine damages. Without liability why would they be concerned about safety?

    I’m not trying to say you should vaccinate or not. I think what we choose to inject into our body or not should ALWAYS be YOUR choice because whatever the outcome, it will be your responsibility, physically, financially, etc. and if you do vaccinate, I respect your decision. Just understand that I have concerns that are justifiable and the ones I have shared are just the tip of the iceberg.

    • says

      I’m always pretty hard on myself. 😉 But I know you’re right; we couldn’t predict whether we’d get this disease or not, vaccinated or not. My husband has Crohn’s, another autoimmune disease potentially linked to the MMR…hence our partially vaccinated kids. :)

      I hope our little guy’s lungs aren’t weak. :( His pneumonia was so mild, I wouldn’t have ever taken him to a doctor if he hadn’t had a well checkup,,,and we beat it without antibiotics or any help from the medical community, so at least I feel good about that. :) Katie

  30. Lindsey says

    Thanks for being so brave to share this, it is really nice to read! My 6 month old hasn’t been vaccinated, so I am a bit nervous about whooping cough, but I think I’m more nervous about the vaccine. I can’t wait to read your next post.

    It is so ironic that people whose kids are vaccinated are mad at those who don’t vaccinate their kids for spreading the disease. But if the vaccine works, then why would it matter?

  31. says

    When I was a girl I was taught to make decisions about tricky situations before they happened because deciding what to do in the middle of it all is just too hard. That’s great advice but not always so practical :-) Sometimes you have to go through something to realize it’s one of those situations you need to think about. I think you could have had this series of posts without ever mentioning whether your children had been vaccinated or not. All of us get sick with something at some point and we need to think about what is appropriate. With most things we’re contagious before we know we’re sick so how do we contact people? After we know we’re sick what will our rules be about being out and about, regarding telling those around us what we have so they can choose to be with us or not. Etc. Sometimes it might help us decide what we’ll do if we look at the other side. My sister had a chronically ill child. The doctor said her best bet for getting stronger was to stay away from and group setting (even a visit to a store) for a full year. Children who were truly healthy could come and play with her outside. But that was about it. Man, was it a tough year! But it did help. After that I would think when my son was not well, would I let him play with his cousin? If the answer was “no” then I probably shouldn’t take him to sunday school or play group or whatever because for all I knew some sensitive person might be there.

    Thanks for opening up the topic for thinking about what we should do in these situations. Sorry you had to take some slings and arrows as a result.

  32. Ozana says

    Homeopathy can help with whooping cough and other childhood diseases!
    And for people that don’t like vaccines but still want to protect their children, there is homeoprophylaxis. Lookup Dr Isaac Golden for details.
    I still believe that breastfeeding and a healthy diet are the best things for the immune system. And I do believe that vaccines weaken the immune system and vaccinated people are more predisposed to ear infections, eczema, asthma, and so on.

  33. says

    Very much appreciate you sharing this, and being so brave and vulnerable.

    I’m intrigued about the effectiveness of the vaccine, I’ve heard many conflicting reports about the low level of effectiveness so I’m a little unsure as to whether/when to get my son vaccinated.

  34. Anon says

    I’m just now reading this, so I hope it’s ok I’m commenting late. And I also want to be careful to be as gracious as possible- because what I’m asking is an honest question- but I do realize how it could come across in print…

    Anyway, I’m having trouble understanding how so me one who advocates allowing parents to make their own choices, “do the research”, and not just go along with whatever the FDA/CDC/aap etc. say (on vaccines, food, healthcare etc.) could be anything but open when it comes to allowing their children to be around others while they have whooping cough.

    Yes, I realize that 100 days is a long time, and I realize that you can’t be quarantined from everyone. But to go into people’s homes without warning them, even after the 21 day mark that you felt was appropriate- it just seems like a contradiction from someone advocating allowing the parents to choose and research for themselves, to take away thr choice from the parents of the children you were visiting/directly in contact with.

    Did it never occur to you that parents might want to make that choice for themselves? Or did you just not think about it?

    • says

      Valid question – and it comes down to my being human, really. By the time we visited the family who lived next door to my parents, we had been playing normally for a few weeks, so it was kind of not at the forefront of my mind with my daughter, who was hardly coughing anymore. As soon as I realized my omission, I DID talk to the neighbor about whether she would want the little one near her kids (as selective vaccinators, she did not).
      Thanks for visiting,

  35. dingo says

    I have just become aware of your blog post about your child with pertussis, and feel I should comment about a couple of things.

    Yes, it is possible as you say for vaccinated kids to catch pertussis; no vaccine is fully 100% protective (and no-one says so). But the point is that it is extremely unlikely for vaxed kids to get infected after exposure, with the risk being 23 times LESS than the risk of infection in an unvaccinated child. So for example in a community with 2000 kids, half vaxed and half unvaxed, if all were to be exposed to infectious bacteria, then 1000 unvaxed kids would come down with pertussis, but only43 vaxed kids would catch it.

    Not only that, we know that a vaccinated child with pertussis infection has a much milder illness, and is often asymptomatic (ie they may not cough at all, and they are certainly less infectious than the unvaxed child with the full blown infection). So not only do they fare much better on an individual level, with fewer complications and a lesser illness, they are less infectious.

    So vaccination helps your kids, and does its bit for the community at the same time.

    • says

      I’m not sure if you read the whole post series, but I did cover many of these issues.

      First, I must say that it’s a bit unfair to assume that 1000 out of 1000 unvaccinated children would contract pertussis if exposed. I do not think that would happen. And my son with 4 of 5 shots and our neighbor with all 5 shots, just having his booster within the year, both got it and coughed plenty. But they would have coughed all over all sorts of babies had I not personally figured out it was pertussis!!! So a milder illness can’t always be a good thing for the whole community, since that means it so often goes undetected completely but certainly isn’t UNcontagious – just ask my younger two kids who clearly caught it from their brother.


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