Tara Hills of Kanata, Ontario, has been a part of the anti-vaccination for most her her children’s lives. Her stance changed recently, but not soon enough to prevent all seven of her children from contracting whooping cough.
Hills and her husband Gavin vaccinated their four oldest children on delayed schedules, but their three youngest children have never received any vaccinations. In a blog written for the Scientific Parent, Tara Hills explains that she was reluctant to trust Big Pharma, the government, or even the media, a position that led her to discount many studies and recommendations about vaccination. According to Hills, for years her relatives tried to convince her and her husband abandon their anti-vaccination stance, which only caused her to become defensive.
Following the Disneyland measles outbreak in the winter of 2014, Hills and her husband reconsidered their anti-vaccination stance. This time, Hills said she traced a measles outbreak in her circle of friends. While Hills’ children did not get measles, she was horrified when she considered the ramifications if any or all of the Hills children hadn’t been so lucky.
“The final shift came when I connected the dots between a small, but (a) real measles outbreak in my personal circles this time last year. But in the 4 highly contagious days before any symptoms show we easily could have passed on our infection to my sister’s toddlers or her 34-week-old son in the NICU.”
Hills met with her pediatrician and together they drew up a schedule to catch up all of the Hills children’s vaccinations. Unfortunately, the plans came too late. In late March, just weeks before the vaccinations were scheduled to begin, all seven of the Hills children contracted whooping cough.
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious disease spread by close contact with someone infected with pertussis. According to the CDC, early stages of whooping cough resemble the common cold, but as the disease progresses, children have horrifying coughing fits followed by a high pitched “whooping” sound as they gasp for air.
The Hills are trying to spread their story as much as possible, in the hopes that other parents in the anti-vaccination movement or those who are just unsure may change their minds.
“I am not looking forward to any gloating or shame as this ‘defection’ from the antivaxx camp goes public, but, this isn’t a popularity contest. Right now my family is living the consequences of misinformation and fear. I would only advise them to check your biases, sources and calendar: Time waits for no parent.”
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