Mother's plea to vaccinate your children after her child develops whooping cough goes viral

The illness can be life-threatening for babies.

A mother's emotional plea to vaccinate your children after her 18-month-old son developed whooping cough has gone viral on Facebook. Jessica Boren from Missouri posted a video a few days ago showing her son coughing uncontrollably. He was crying and looked miserable.

She explained in her post, "This is Brody. An 18 month old boy. Our 3rd child. Our first son.

"This is a mother that see's 'anti-vaxx' all over social media and becomes terrified. Unsure whether to give or not give vaccines (even though she did for both of her girls). Terrified to 'pump her baby with poison'. Worried she's harming her child. So she stops vaccinating after 6 months. (ETA: I tried 'spacing them out' so he did not get all 3 shots.)

"This is a baby boy struggling to breathe and turning blue with every cough. Coughing for over a minute each time. Multiple times an hour. For 5 days. Getting worse by the second."

Jessica's post has been shared more than 85,000 times. She urges parents to vaccinate their children, saying she was not placing blame or judgement on anyone, but that this was to "show the consequences of not vaccinating my child correctly". She hoped that her family's "awful experience" could "help educate other families".

"Praying no other mom or dad ever have to witness their child endure this," she wrote. She ended her post with, "This is why you SHOULD vaccinate & protect your children."

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the lungs and airways. It is most serious in babies under the age of 12 months.

In New Zealand, a national whooping cough outbreak was declared last December. As reported in Stuff, MOH Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay said at the time: "Anyone with coughs should be especially careful if they are likely to come in to contact with babies. Most adults don't realise they have whooping cough, but it is incredibly contagious.

"Babies under 1 year old are most vulnerable to the disease and often catch it from older siblings, their parents or family members and friends.

"The best way to protect babies is for pregnant women to get their free immunisation against whooping cough between 28 and 38 weeks of pregnancy, and take their baby for their free immunisations when they're 6 weeks, 3 months and 5 months old."

Siblings should also be up-to-date with their immunisations, she said.

There is currently a whooping cough outbreak in Tauranga which has seen double the number of cases this year compared with last year. There were 75 cases of whooping cough in 2017 and there have been 155 so far this year.

Toi Te Ora Public Health Organisation chief medical officer Dr Phil Shoemack told the NZ Herald:

''Babies can struggle to breathe, and it's very distressing particularly in the under 1-year-olds. Often they are admitted to hospital as it affects their ability to breath because they have smaller lung capacity.'

''It can be life-threatening... and there have been documented instances where children under the age of 1 have died.''

In New Zealand only 85 to 90 per cent of children are vaccinated against whooping cough, according to Immunisation Schedule records. The vaccination involves three shots at 6 weeks, three months and five months - plus booster shots at age four years and 11 years.

Happily, Brody has recovered and Jessica has been overwhelmed by offers of support from people all over the world.