An Australian mom has changed her stance on vaccinations after she passed on whooping cough to her newborn daughter. Now the first-time mom is urging other pregnant women to get the vaccine.
In a video posted to Gold Coast Health’s Facebook page, mom Cormit Avital reveals how she contracted whooping cough after rejecting the vaccine in the 28th week of her pregnancy.
“Being the healthy, fit, organic woman that I am, I said, ‘Leave me alone. I don’t need this crap,’” she explained. “And even me, the bullet-proof lady that’s never been to a doctor, travelled the world and felt healthy got whooping cough.”
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a contagious respiratory infection. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the illness is most harmful to newborns because there is no vaccine for infants under two months of age.
Avital got sick right before she gave birth, despite having a healthy pregnancy with no complications. At first, she thought nothing of it, but when she went to the doctor, she discovered she had whooping cough. The illness was then passed on to her daughter Eva.
As a result, Avital and her baby girl have spent the last three weeks in the hospital.
“It’s been a nightmare,” the first-time mom said, describing Eva’s cough as “horror movie” scary. “[She was] coughing to the point of turning blue, flopping in my hands, can’t breathe, running to the hospital.”
At one point, Eva stopped breathing for three minutes and was admitted to the ICU.
Admitting that Eva’s recovery is “so hard to watch,” Avital said: “She’s my only child and my first, and if I could turn back time I would have protected myself.”
“[She was] coughing to the point of turning blue, flopping in my hands, can’t breathe, running to the hospital.”
This isn’t the first time a parent has spoken out about the importance of the whooping cough vaccine. Back in January, parents from Perth, Australia, shared a video of their son, Riley Hughes, who contracted whooping cough in 2014. Unfortunately, the baby boy died when he was one month old.
In January, the boy's mother, Catherine, told Guardian Australia: “I really want people to know that pregnancy vaccination means we now have the power to minimize – if not completely stop – deaths from whooping cough. It’s so amazing that we can now protect our babies before they are even born. Immunity is such an important gift we can give our children.”
In Canada, pregnant women are advised to get the whooping cough vaccine in their third trimester to help protect their newborns. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the vaccine is first administered to babies at two months old, then again at four, six and 12 to 23 months of age (but generally given at 18 months).
Last November, Canada experienced a whooping cough outbreak in several provinces, but specifically, Manitoba had 44 of 51 reported cases in the country. As a result, many health officials urged the public to make sure their vaccinations were up to date.
Canada generally has between 1,000 and 3,000 cases of whooping cough per year, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST: