It wasn't long ago that Naomi Murray considered herself an anti-vaxxer.
The mother of three from Winkler, Man., read Jenny McCarthy's book and thought the celebrity skeptic was "spot-on." She was nervous about putting substances such as formaldehyde and mercury into her children's systems.
But then her husband Glenn convinced her to allow Phoenix, their now-four-month-old daughter, to receive immunity shots.
Now the baby girl has whooping cough, and Murray is deeply offended that people make a conscious choice not to vaccinate their children.
"She could've died. And she probably would have if we didn't vaccinate," she told The Winnipeg Sun.
Phoenix was diagnosed with pertussis, also known as whooping cough, in October, The Winnipeg Sun reported.
It's an infectious respiratory condition and symptoms can include so much coughing that the air leaves sufferers' lungs.
The disease can be prevented through immunization.
Phoenix received her first shots against whooping cough when she was two months old. And while they didn't stop her from contracting the disease, Murray believes her young daughter is alive right now because she had them.
Her case was bad enough that she had to spend five days in isolation at the Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre Children's Hospital.
On two of those days, the baby stopped breathing. But she's now home and recovering under her mother's close watch.
"If we would not have had her vaccinated, she would not have had the antibodies and I'm not sure if I'd be watching my baby sleep right now or if I would've buried my baby," she told the Sun.
Murray thinks it's possible that Phoenix contracted whooping cough after being exposed to a family friend who hasn't been vaccinated, CBC News reported.
She added that Phoenix could lie within a small percentage of kids who don't develop immunity immediately.
Experts have estimated that herd immunity for pertussis, or the percentage of a population that needs to vaccinate to stop a disease's spread, is 92 per cent.
A provincial health report for 2013 showed that, at 68.3 per cent, the Southern Regional Health Authority (where Winkler is located) had Manitoba's worst vaccination rates for one-year-old children.
That represented a drop from 69.8 per cent in 2012 and 72 per cent between 2007 and 2011.
Province-wide, the immunization rate for pertussis was 79.3 per cent, well below the threshold for herd immunity.
Murray has a simple question for parents who won't have their kids vaccinated: "Why are you playing Russian Roulette with your child's life?"
Elsewhere in Manitoba, one anti-vaccine mom has claimed she's being bullied after she was asked to keep her son home from school. She had refused to immunize him against the measles.
Kim Paul, a massage therapist, told CBC News last year that she won't have her son vaccinated because she feels homeopathic treatments are good enough.
"To me it almost seems like a bullying situation, you know, get the needle, get the needle, if you don't get the needle you can't go," she said.
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