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



A Letter to Riley – one year on.

Dear Riley,

Today it has been one year since we held you as you left this world, and left a huge un-repairable hole in our hearts.

We whispered promises to you which we have tried to keep. All the time we would have spent cuddling you has been channeled into trying to sure this doesn’t happen to other undeserving babies and children. We are so sorry it happened to you. It has been a hard year for us.

You have been loved by more people than you ever got to meet. Your sister talks about you all the time, she loved being your big sister, even if it was just for a short time. She loved you so much she even was excited to help change your nappies – that is love, coming from a three year old!

We’ve been replaying in our heads over and over those last few days and hours with you. Even though you died sleeping, Our greatest hope is that you could feel our love and hugs and cuddles as you left us. I hope you heard the lullaby we sang as you drifted away from us.

We can’t believe it’s been a year. We can’t believe we’ve survived. If we could hit rewind, we would have done it a long time ago.

We love you so much.

xxx Mummy & Daddy

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.

baby booties

Dad’s Perspective on Grief – Greg Hughes

I found this photo while I was shuffling through our folders and even when Rileybear was still brand new you could see the incredible amount of love our daughter possessed for him.

Our little girl has had to do so much growing up in the past 12 months and for me it’s been the most difficult aspect of our grieving process. As ridiculous as it might sound, I’d never actually seen my daughter cry purely because her feelings were hurt. Sure, she’d grizzle over not getting her own way, but the first time I heard weeping and I walked into her room to find her sobbing saying ‘I miss my little man’ almost ended me.

She’s had to learn to cope with the enormity of loss at a far earlier age than I would’ve liked and it’s something that I think will always remain, even subconsciously, as part of her identity. Thankfully, we’ve had so many generous people who have donated Teddies, Photo Albums and other little items that she cherishes and which constantly remind her of her brother.

These days she seems to be coping quite well. She’s ecstatic that she’s getting the opportunity to be a big sister again and she finds solace in sending her brother letters via balloon each month to show him what she’s up to at school and how much she misses him. While she takes comfort in these actions I’ll keep encouraging it, as painful as it might be for me as a parent.

I think the most upsetting aspect of what we do is the extremely personal encounters with individuals who’ve lost a child or in some cases children. I’ve met Mums and Dads on our travels who’ve lost as many as 14 children and it’s a club that no parent wants to be a part of. From miscarriage, to still borns and children who were cruelly taken far too soon, no parent nor family should ever have to endure the heartache associated with the loss of a child.

For those of you who’ve only recently experienced this awful circumstance, I implore you to seek support. You’re not alone, you shouldn’t have to deal with this by yourself and unfortunately there’s too many of us who’ve experienced similar paths to yourself and have walked the same journey you’re about to travel.

Grief left unchecked has the ability to tear families apart and ruin lives, and it’s for this reason that I post this – to remind those of you who’ve experienced the cruellest loss of all, that you’re not to blame. You should never be shamed for grieving your child and there’s no ‘timeframe’ to ‘get over it’. This is a lifelong scar that may fade, but never disappears completely and can be reopened at the most inopportune times.

I’d love to hear from those of you brave enough to share your stories. I truly think you’re incredible.

To the bereaved Mums, Dads, Sisters, Brothers, Grandparents, Guardians and all those in between – I salute you.

-Riley’s Dad