After losing their son last year, a mom and dad in Australia are using Facebook to raise awareness for the whooping cough vaccine.
According to the Guardian, Catherine and Greg Hughes of Western Australia shared a video documenting the final days of their son Riley, who died in March 2015 from whooping cough (pertussis) when he was 32 days old. Posted on Jan. 7 on the Facebook page Light for Riley, the video shows footage of Riley coughing the night before he was admitted to the hospital.
“I have always kept these videos to myself, as it makes my blood run cold listening to my beautiful boy cough like that,” Riley’s mom, Catherine, wrote in the video description. “But we are sharing this in the hopes that it will convince just one more pregnant Mum to protect their baby from this disease. I wish I had known about pregnancy vaccination when I was pregnant with Riley.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists two whooping cough vaccines: one for people who are 11 years and older (Tdap) and one for children between the ages of 2 months and 6 years (DTaP). The CDC now encourages pregnant women to get the Tdap vaccine (for adolescents and adults) during the third trimester of every pregnancy, replacing the original suggestion that “pregnant women get the vaccine only if they had not previously received it.”
According to the online-only publication WAtoday, Riley’s death inspired the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisations to release information on free whooping cough vaccines for pregnant women in Western Australia and offer new recommendations about vaccinations during pregnancy earlier than planned.
Riley’s parents continue to raise awareness for the vaccine by posting photos of him and sharing stories about his life.
“4 weeks with you wasn’t enough, but it was enough for me to have fallen completely in love with you,” she wrote in November in a photo caption.
In the last line of the video’s description, Catherine asked the more than 81,000 people who like the Light for Riley Facebook page to share her son’s story.
“I loved being Riley’s Mum for those four weeks. I wish it were longer,
she wrote. “Please share to help ensure no more babies die from this disease, which I hope one day will be relegated to the history books.”
To learn more about Riley, visit the Light for Riley Facebook page.
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