Vaccine Needle

Catherine Hughes celebrates news of WA vaccination rates

Catherine Hughes expressed her recent joy on the news that her home state of Western Australia can now boast one of the highest rates of vaccination in the world.

The passing of her baby boy Riley, from the vaccine preventable disease Pertussis (whooping cough) made headlines around the world through her and her husbands fierce campaigning to educate parents and expectant mothers against the dangers of choosing not to vaccinate.

The campaigning created huge momentum through their social media page Light For Riley and resulted in several changes being made at both state and federal levels.

Since Riley’s unnecessary passing from the disease the federal government implemented their ‘No jab No pay’ legislation withdrawing government benefits to those parents who choose not vaccinate.  In addition to this the Hughes family experienced one of the biggest triumphs in their plight which was to ensure that the Whooping Cough vaccine was readily available and free to pregnant women.

Catherine reflects on these milestones and the exciting news that Western Australia is leading the way in stomping out vaccine preventable diseases through immunisation.

Read the full article here: Catherine Hughes speaks to The West Australian about Success for Free Whopping Cough Vaccine

Catherine Hughes interview for The West Australian. Photo Credit: Ross Swanborough, The West Australian

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

 

A Mother’s Plea – Light For Riley

A year ago I was sitting there helpless next to Riley and decided to put this plea up on my Facebook, urging friends and family to have a whooping cough vaccination.

“If you haven’t been immunised against whooping cough (pertussis) please consider getting it done. Heartbreaking to watch 4 week old Riley struggle with it at PMH please keep him in your thoughts!

I remember this day clearly. We had just been moved to a room right near the nurses desk because they wanted to keep a closer eye on him. While we still hadn’t received the swab results yet, his doctor was convinced he had whooping cough. We were told to be prepared to stay in hospital for a long time, possibly weeks or even months. I remember (stupidly) feeling so much positivity. I never entertained the thought that he wouldn’t make it. My brain refused to go there. He was having a tough time but he was going to get better. That was the only thought running through my mind. It wasn’t until he was moved to ICU the next day that I started to feel seriously worried.

Wish I had cuddled him more when he was in hospital.

Catherine Hughes.

Riley’s Story – Whooping cough

Riley Hughes was born a gorgeous and healthy baby boy on February 13th, 2015. He was our second child and we were so delighted to have him in our family.

At three weeks of age, he started displaying mild cold-like symptoms, and developed an occasional cough. We called out a locum, who assured us he was fine. However instincts took over, and after a night where he slept a lot and barely woke for his usual two-hourly breastfeed, we knew something wasn’t right. We took him straight to our local children’s hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth, Western Australia.

Riley was admitted that afternoon, and at first it was thought he had bronchiolitis. Pretty quickly, the doctors suspected pertussis (whooping cough) and began treating him for it. On the 4th day of his hospital stay, he was taken to PICU with pneumonia, and his swab tests confirmed he did indeed have whooping cough. He grew steadily worse and worse, and despite all the best medical intervention, Riley passed away in our arms the next afternoon, at just 32 days old.

While Riley was dying in hospital, we discovered that women in the UK, USA, Belgium and New Zealand were being recommended a whooping cough vaccine in their third trimester. This vaccine, usually given between 28-32 weeks gestation, provides the unborn baby with the necessary antibodies to protect them from this terrible disease. Since the introduction of this pregnancy vaccine, the UK has seen a reduction in infant deaths from pertussis by over 90%.

Two days after Riley’s death, our state government announced the introduction of a program where these third trimester booster shots would be offered free of charge to pregnant women. Other states soon followed, and now all states and territories in Australia have free whooping cough booster shots for pregnant women.
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