Olivia’s Story – Whooping Cough

My daughter was just 3 weeks old when she had a runny nose and sneeze, with mildly not wanting feeds as much. This went on for a few days but I knew the early symptoms of whooping cough (thanks to light for Riley) so I took her to the doctor, the doctor didn’t want to swab her stating she was very healthy but I insisted and had to convince the doctor to do a swab. Overnight she got dramatically worse, her nose was completely blocked, she wouldn’t take feeds, mild cough, sneezing all the time, and was so tired and fatigued.

The next morning we got the call that the test was positive – my daughter had whooping cough, and she was admitted to hospital. At the hospital we were warned this could be a long haul, and they just didn’t know what would happen with my daughter being so small and how she would cope with the disease. Well, thanks to catching it early and the pregnancy booster my daughter never even got the horrible whooping cough, ‘cough’ and never even required oxygen in hospital. One of the doctors said they had never seen such a young baby fight it so amazingly well, with the nurses saying that they had never seen a baby cope so well. We left hospital when she was 4 weeks old after only a 3 day stay. She is now a healthy 6 month old.

I can honestly say if I hadn’t had my pregnancy booster or caught whooping cough early my daughter might not be here with us today. Early intervention and immunisations DO help.



Catherine Hughes Nominated for Women of the Future Award

Last year Australia embraced and supported Catherine and Greg Hughes as they mourned the loss of their baby boy Riley.  Riley contracted whooping cough and despite the hospital staffs best efforts and Riley’s fight, he passed away at 32 days old from the disease.

In tribute to their son Riley and in testament to their strength, Greg and Catherine set up the Light for Riley campaign to share their story and more importantly, raise awareness to the importance of immunisation in children and adults alike.

Their determination paid off with meetings with ministers, health officials and the support of a nation. In addition to the No Jab No Pay legislation being introduced shortly after Riley’s passing, Catherine has raised over $75,000 for research and donated over 100,000 vaccines.

In addition to being a truly amazing woman, we congratulate Catherine on making the semi-finalist of the 2016 Australian Women’s Weekly Women of the Future Award.

We encourage you to vote for this incredible individual who has been a role model to us all that in the face of adversity and personal tragedy, greatness can come.

Watch Catherine’s video here











Jazmyn’s Story – Meningococcal disease

On Tuesday 25th August Jazmyn was a bright bubbly happy little girl, but at 10pm that night things took a turn in a direction that no one could have seen coming. It started with flu like symptoms and a high temp, which we thought nothing off at the time due to the rest of the family suffering from influenza B. On Wednesday morning Sarah was getting the girls ready for school drop off, and upon waking Jaz noticed her discomfort with touching her legs, and observed a heat like rash. The next step saved our little girls life, as Sarah decided to see the Drs just to be on the safe side. Upon observation of Jazmyn by the doctor a small pin prick sized mark was noticed, and during the examination time a second mark presented, causing extra concern. The doctor immediately sent Jaz to hospital for monitoring, the second step that saved her life.

During the next few hrs Jazmyn deteriorated rapidly and after a small “fit” episode around 1pm her condition spiralled. A purple patchy rash developed very rapidly all over her legs and arms and she was in extreme discomfort. During this time the doctor had been in touch with PICU at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital and discussed the best course of action with the suspicion being a strain of the meningococcal disease. It was organised to air lift her to the WCH in Adelaide for intensive care. The incredible Med Star team arrived at 4:30 and she was in the air at 6:30.

Our worst fears were confirmed Friday morning via blood tests that Jazmyn was indeed suffering from the meningococcal B type disease, the most aggressive and dangerous type of meningococcal.

It is only due to a mother’s intuition and knowledge of her kids, and the amazing doctor that detected the slight symptoms and reacted with immediate action that contributed to Jazmyn being alive today. Thanks also must go to the incredible Med Star team and the amazing doctors and nurses from PICU and medical ward 1 at WCH to the continued support, advice and encouragement through the this ordeal.

We cannot urge the importance for all parents to be vigilant and seek medical attention if any of the meningococcal symptoms present themselves, early action and treatment is the number one factor to save your child’s life.



5 Ways to Protect Your Child from Pertussis

Pertussis (or whooping cough) is extremely contagious which is why it is so important to understand how you as a parent, can protect yourself and your child from this potentially fatal disease.

Here’s 5 ways to protect your child against whooping cough:

  1. Have a booster shot in the third trimester of your pregnancy to pass on antibodies to your unborn baby.
  2. Keep your baby away from anyone who is sick or has cold-like symptoms.
  3. Download a vaccine reminder App, such as VaxiMate, VacciDate or Save The Date to Vaccinate, so you don’t miss any vaccinations.
  4. Whooping cough vaccinations wear off – ensure friends and family who have frequent contact with your child are up to date with their booster shots.
  5. Talk to your GP if you have any concerns or questions.



Fern’s Story – Whooping Cough

In September 2015, my 5 month old Fern had a cold. We went to the doctors a few times within a 3 week period and I was told she had asthma, then bronchitis. One night she couldn’t breathe while coughing and it seemed like she was choking, so I raced her up to the hospital. Once we arrived, she coughed so hard that we both got covered in phlegm. They could not find anything wrong with her and a nurse mentioned whooping cough was going around, so they tested her for whooping cough. I found out that my older kids’ school had 9 confirmed cases and no one was alerted. We got a phone call confirming that she had whooping cough and so we were back at the hospital, but they could not do anything for her as she was able to drink her bottle. I was shocked that they couldn’t help her.

At home it was a nightmare day and night watching my baby struggling to breathe, not knowing if that was going to be her last breath. They look on her face when it was happening brought tears flowing down my face. There was nothing I could do except hold her and pat her back. Just when it seemed like it would be going it would be back, and it seemed worse than when it started. She would scream in pain after every cough. I was a mess as a mother, watching this, feeling that somehow it was my fault.

I felt like no one understood. I would have friends that couldn’t understand why I wasn’t answering their phone calls, not catching up – they just kept writing it’s just a cough, it’s like croup, she will get over it soon. They just didn’t understand what was happening to her and how at any moment that she might just give up and go.

I honestly felt like it was never going to go away. The doctor told me it was 100 day cough, so I was counting the days while Googling to see if there was anything that could help. I tried everything, you name it, I tried it, and nothing worked. It came to 120 days and I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t gone. I then researched and found that babies take longer to get over whooping cough.

While she was coughing and screaming in pain, I just couldn’t understand why people do not vaccinate their children or themselves, Fern had only received 2 shots for this so far.  Yes, we do have that mentality that it won’t happen to us but it does – this is your child who depends on you to keep them alive, and personally to me vaccinations help them with this. I was told Fern has a mild case of whooping cough because of her vaccinations. I honestly feel if that was a mild case because of her vaccinations.  Imagine if I hadn’t given her the needles, she would more than likely not be here today.

The recovery process is long. It is now 6 months and it still hasn’t fully gone. When she gets worked up the whooping gasp for air and cough returns. One day it will be gone but we won’t know what damage it has done until she is older.


Sydney Pregnancy, Babies and Children’s Expo

Our message of immunisation to protect babies and expectant mother’s continues this weekend as our Light For Riley stand takes prime position at the Sydney Pregnancy Babies and Children’s Expo.  The stand will be attended to by our amazing volunteers who will be handing out free immunisation information packs to all attendees.

We welcome you to come and have a chat as we work towards educating expectant and new parents on the importance of immunisation. We look forward to seeing you there!


Australian Immunisation Schedule reviews pregnancy vaccination against whooping coug

Today we are happy to announce that pregnancy vaccination against whooping cough may now become a permanent and standard feature of the Australian Immunisation Schedule, IF the recently lodged application to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) is successful.

Since Riley’s death, individual state health departments began funding this vaccine for pregnant women, but it is not a permanent solution. They have, in the past, completely removed vaccination programs, leaving babies like Riley completely vulnerable to preventable infectious diseases. We know that once a vaccine is approved by the PBAC to go onto our National Immunisation Program, it is unlikely to be removed. Parents will receive clearer information from their health-care providers. And most importantly, our babies of the future will be protected.

However – we need your help!

We want to ensure that the PBAC hear from parents who support this vaccine being federally and permanently funded for all pregnant women across the country.
Have you had this vaccine in pregnancy?
Did you miss out on the information from your health care provider?
Have you had whooping cough or had babies/children suffer from it?
Do you want the whooping cough vaccine to be offered to all pregnant Mums in Australia, permanently?

Consumer comments can be made here before June 7th, and we want the PBAC to know that there is incredible consumer support for this life-saving vaccine.

Please remember – there is no cure or effective treatment for whooping cough. It is our newborns who are most at risk from this terrible disease. Please let the PBAC know that in a country as fortunate as Australia, our children should be protected, not dying from preventable diseases.

Greg and Catherine Hughes.




Protecting your unborn baby from influenza

I’ve just had my flu shot – that’s half of my pregnancy vaccinations complete 😊

For any other pregnant Mums thinking of having it, these are the 4 main reasons I chose to have a flu shot during pregnancy:

Over the last year I’ve spoken to quite a few Mums who have lost or nearly lost their babies/young kids to influenza. All such beautiful parents with tragic stories. I hope I can help get out their message that vaccination doesn’t begin in childhood, it begins in pregnancy.

Catherine Hughes.


Vacine Preventable Diseases

‘If I could turn back time I would protect myself.’

‘If I could turn back time I would protect myself.’

A brave Gold Coast mother speaks out about her baby daughter Eva who has been hospitalised for weeks with whooping cough, and talks about her heartbreaking regrets in her decision to reject the whooping cough vaccine during her pregnancy.

This is the very sad reality of whooping cough. Babies are being born vulnerable with no protection against the disease unless the mother receives a booster in their third trimester.

Nine out of ten babies who contract whooping cough will be hospitalised, many needing intensive care. When Riley was hospitalised, Catherine and Greg Hughes were told prepare for several weeks in the hospital.  In reality, they left without him in their arms at all.

For detailed information about why a whooping cough vaccination is recommended in pregnancy, this fact sheet is great: http://www.ncirs.edu.au/…/vaccinations-in-pregnancy-fact-sh…

For a link to some of the current scientific evidence for the safety and effectiveness of the whooping cough vaccine in pregnancy: http://nrvs.info/whooping-cough-vaccination-in-pregnancy-t…/

Watch the full video here:


Vaccine Needle

Facts about Vaccines

There is so much incorrect information about it on the internet, often spread around by those who sell “alternatives” to vaccines.

If you’re ever struggling to really weigh up the risks vs benefits of vaccination, speak to an ICU doctor – they will be the ones who treat children who are suffering badly from a vaccine-preventable disease, or in very rare cases, a vaccine reaction. I have never, ever met an ICU doctor who is not completely supportive of vaccination.

Catherine Hughes

Source: www.thevaccinepage.org