Viral video showing baby with whooping cough outlines importance of vaccine

Published: Nov. 19, 2015 at 12:42 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2015 at 1:19 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - When the mother of a 4-month-old baby shared a video she said was her child suffering from pertussis, or whooping cough, she wrote in the post she hoped to spread awareness on the importance of vaccinating against the sickness. A week later almost 2 million people had viewed her video, and the message continued to spread.

Doctors said videos like hers show firsthand why the vaccine against whooping cough is so important.

"The more people who see this video, the more people who understand what pertussis is and what it can do to young children," Dr. Jon Pangia with Grand Strand Medical Center said. "So yes, I think that billions of people need to see it and understand the importance of vaccinating "

The post, made by a woman named Rebecca Harreman, said parents on the fence about getting their children vaccinated should have nothing to consider after watching her child suffer. She also said her baby has turned blue from coughing fits, rendered unable to even take a breath.

The below is a snippet of her post:

"This is a GOOD coughing fit in a 4 month old with Pertussis, or Whooping Cough - 23 days after his cough started which is when it's supposed to be getting past the bad stage. It lasts for up to 100 days, but a simple cold I passed onto him that I caught from being with him in hospital is making him relapse again
Now when I say this is good... I mean that's absolutely nothing. Not even long enough to be called a coughing fit. Nothing compared to watching him turn blue from coughing for so long and so much he can't take a single breath..."

"They can get very sick, very quickly," Dr. Pangia said. "And if they're making that very distinctive cough which is a horrible, hard, hard cough, so hard that they have to stop and they catch their breath [inhales sharply], that's whooping cough."

Dr. Pangia said it's not just about vaccinating children. For teens and adults, even though the sickness isn't as serious as it is for babies, it's just as crucial to vaccinate. "It's not even as important to protect yourself from getting sick. Again, you'll just get very uncomfortable and you won't be happy for six weeks. It's so that you're not spreading it through the community and passing it to an infant who can die from it. It's really about the children in the community."

While pertussis is rarely fatal, "In 2014, about 13 people died from pertussis," according to Dr. Pangia. "Most of those were children. So in its worst form, yes, pertussis can kill."

It's most dangerous to the young. "At any age less than a year, even two years, you're very vulnerable to these things," Dr. Pangia added. "Less than three months is the most vulnerable period in a person's life."

Vaccinations for infants for whooping cough can be given at four months.

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