Former Anti-Vaxxer Recants Her Stance After All 7 Of Her Children Get Whooping Cough

By  | 

477560727Sometimes, “We told you so” just doesn’t feel that good to say. Being right just doesn’t feel that great when your rightness means that little kids are going to suffer. A Canadian mother of seven has publicly renounced her anti-vaccine stance–after all of her un-vaccinated and under-vaccinated children came down with a nasty case of whooping cough.

Writing for the blog, mother Tara Hills discusses her family’s “learning the hard way” about the dangers of vaccine deferral and what inspired her about-face on the subject. She describes a mild cold that soon developed into a dry, racking cough. With her youngest three children coughing so hard they made themselves vomit, Hills quickly put the pieces together and realized that pertussis was at play.

It’s often been said that the only thing that could change an anti-vaxxer’s mind is to have one of his or her children actually come down with a serious and vaccine-preventable disease, but Hills actually found herself on the path back to rejoining the pro-science fold after a small measles outbreak struck in their circle of friends. Their experience with whooping cough struck between when Hills started re-evaluating her stance on vaccination and when the schedule to bring the children in for immunization was set to begin. Now, the whole family is in quarantine, and hoping dearly that they didn’t expose their five-month old niece to the disease.

Whooping cough is a horrible disease, and anyone who can look at small children struggling to breathe through coughing fits and say, “Well, that’s what they get because their mother made a bad decision” should probably take his Social Darwinist ball and go home. We should all be hoping that Hills’ family recovers quickly–these are young children we’re talking about, and if your pro-science stance is predicated on the suffering of little ones, your science sucks.

The situation is awful, but if there’s any good at all to come out of this, it’s the powerful voice Hills can lend to the pro-vaccine movement now. Her bravery in coming out forward to recant her former stance is A Big Deal. Only Nixon could go to China, and maybe only a former anti-vaxxer can serve as a credible testament in favor of vaccines to the anti-vaccine movement as a whole. Hills references her previous distrust of pharmaceutical companies, of the government and public health politics, of the pro-vaccine media–but she represents none of those entities. Who can say whether or not that’s enough for other anti-vaccine parents to listen to and believe her? It would be wonderful if no more children had to struggle to breathe through pertussis, or to get through the days of misery afforded by a case of the measles. But if her story is enough to make even one other family change their minds and protect their own children from these preventable diseases, that’s something. A little less suffering in the world would be a wonderful thing.

(Image: dina2001 / Getty)