04 February, 2010

this is not a discussion on vaccinations, except that it is.

This isn't meant to open a discussion on vaccinations,
only our eyes to a stark reality.

where we stand on the vaccination debate,
is completely irrelevant,
because either way. . .

Infectious diseases are making a comeback.

and that is an irrefutable fact.

just received the following:

"A friend posted a link to your blog and I've been following your story and praying for you.

I feel compelled to share this with you. Shortly after I started reading, I came down with what I thought was a cold. But because I've read your blog, pertussis was on my radar. I researched it. My symptoms matched. I went to the doctor. Diagnosis: pertussis.

If I hadn't read your son's story, I might have just assumed I had a nasty cold and carried on with everything, exposing God-knows-how-many babies and other vulnerable people to pertussis. I've taken two rounds of antibiotics, but I'm still quarantining myself until my symptoms clear because the thought that I could unknowingly cause a baby to suffer like your little guy did terrifies me.

So thank you for sharing your story, and increasing awareness about the still very real threat of infectious diseases."

Did you even KNOW that your immunizations wear off?

I didn't.

Not until life came and robbed me of my heart.

just this one last thing. . .

No matter how we feel about vaccinations for our respective children,
as adults, I don't think anyone can argue the fact
that staying up on our vaccinations (aka the pertussis booster)
is in fact our civic duty.

Wouldn't you agree?


Nathan & Annette said...

Totally 100% agree.


Annette Hill

Allison said...

Thanks for your thoughts. I never even thought about vaccinations for myself and husband. It's something always in debate with our children, but I never thought about myself. Thank you. Very well written post and comment by fellow blogger on perussis. You're spreading the word, that's for sure. Hang in there on these 'sunless' days, you've got a lot of strength and your always willing to share it with others through this blog.

Deanna said...

I got an MMR booster before I left Queen's L&D floor. I was on the phone with my Mommy and didn't even notice the nurse doing it. Seemed like the wisest idea with a newborn around! I'm definitely getting checked out for a pertussis booster now; it never even occurred to me until Gavin.

Natalie Powers said...

Wow, I didn't know that! Totally agree!

Shelly Wutke said...

I always feel guilty when I take them in for shots, because they cry, but I always knew it was important to do so.I told my doctor about you recently and we got into a big discussion about how many of his patients just refuse to vaccinate. It frustrates him to no end.

Great post.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree.

Natalie, You are an inspiration. I have followed your story since the day your precious Gavin went to Heaven to be with his uncle and the Lord. I admire you in so many ways. The amount of people and hearts you touch is unbelievable. I have never commented but please know that I pray for you and your family often and now am praying for Sara and her family. Prayers are such a wonderful gift. Thank you for making me a better person, Catholic, Friend, Mommy and Wife. I am a changed person and count my blessings so much more then I ever did before. And, I thought I was a very thankful person.
Thank you for being you!

Thank you for being such an angel here on earth.


A stranger in Southern California

Meghan Stone

Unknown said...

I think it's going too far to declare the choice to vaccinate a civic duty. It's fine to feel strongly about the need for vaccines, but giving government authority over our personal medical treatments is a terrible mistake.

Perhaps you only meant to stress that you strongly feel that vaccines are important. If so, I'm sorry for misunderstanding you there.

Heather said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heather said...

Dear Natalie,
You are definitely NOT going too far when declaring that vaccinating yourself as an adult is your civic duty. It is.

I mean that in the nicest way, of course. I'm going to sound a little harsh here, but it is what it is: making a choice to not vaccinate is selfish. You are contaminating your entire city with diseases and germs and putting people in fatal harm by not vaccinating.

Natalie, about your post: agreed.

JEN said...

I agree. We should all be vaccinated. There needs to be more public awareness about these facts. If we knew... we would never walk around with this loaded weapon. So sorry for your loss. But thank you for raising awareness to (hopefully) spare the life of another child.

Natalie. said...


oh nothing at all to do with the government.

just me, as a human being, surrounded by other human beings, in a would where we consistently share infrastructure.

I feel that I have a duty to do my part to keep everyone safe and healthy.

This has absolutely NOTHING to do with the government. But me, as a citizen.

in my opinion, if an adult makes a choice not to vaccinate themselves, they are potentially making a choice for another human being. . . a child. . . and that choice that person made could equal fatality for that child.

as it did for my son.



Natalie. said...

uh by "would" I mean "world" . . . I'm a zombie.

Budget Mama said...

YES. My friend's son contracted mumps before age 1. We're on a delayed schedule, but I do feel it's important to vaccinate low-risk kids by their teens (and sooner depending on risk factors- personally I don't feel Hep B is necessary for my little ones just yet, but definitely later on; however, we did DTaP on schedule).

Many of us vaccinated as kids in the 70s and 80s received MMR vaccinations that were not entirely effective, making us susceptible to those diseases. Contracting rubella while pregnant can cause serious birth defects, and mumps can cause infertility.

So it's definitely a good idea to have your annual checkup and talk to your doctor about which vaccines you may need boosters for or to be re-vaccinated.

It's also good to remember that some vaccines protect against only certain strains of the virus, so for example the rotavirus vaccine (which I do NOT recommend at all for breastfed babies- it is a live virus and is known to cause rotavirus in some babies who get the vaccination) will not provide complete protection. Pneumococcal is another one that does not protect against all strains. Also, with the "series" vaccines, one dose will not protect children, and often there is a window after receiving the vaccine when the risks of contracting the disease can be even more severe than if the child was not vaccinated.

It's all so complex, and even with a degree in Biology and coursework in immunology I still often question what's best for my kids. Thankfully it's much easier to know what's best as an adult who has thankfully never had a reaction to a vaccine.

Karen P said...

I agree! I try to be vigilant in making sure my boys get their vaccines on time, but it never once occurred to me to make sure that myself and my husband are up to date on our vaccines. Thanks for the kind and gentle reminder.

You and your family are still in our thoughts and prayers.

Thank you for your blog posts. I come away feelings so uplifted by your amazing strength and faith and testimony.

Natalie. said...


This is spot on.

"It's all so complex, and even with a degree in Biology and coursework in immunology I still often question what's best for my kids. Thankfully it's much easier to know what's best as an adult who has thankfully never had a reaction to a vaccine. "

Thank you for sharing.


kcbestor said...

It just doesn't seem right that people (AKA babies) who don't even have the opportunity to receive a vaccination against a disease that can potentially take their life are at the mercy of the rest of the population who are underinformed, misinformed, or just lazy. I'm with you 110%, Natalie, and as a young mother, I have explored both sides of the vaccination issue. Gavin's story is one that people who are thinking of not vaccinating their children NEED to hear.

Anonymous said...

People don't vaccinate for various reasons. . .I hear a million reasons being a nurse. I came across this article the other day and thought it was quite enlightening and helpful to those who do not vaccinate for this specific reason. . .seems like one man sure fooled a lot of people! Vaccinations are so incredibly important for ALL of us! After saying that I do have to add I appreciate people being different and having differing opinions. But, I think one needs to make sure they are educated (correctly) before they make such a HUGE decision to vaccinate or not.

Nikki ~ Kaneohe, HI said...

I absolutely agree with you Natalie... vaccinations are important... I did not know that they wear off.... scary. My kids are on schedule for their vaccinations, but it still scares me.

Thank you for sharing your story... my heart and thoughts have been with you and your family since reading your posts.

I've thought about driving over to Laie to give you a big hug, but I guess that would have been weird. :) So here a virtual one *HUG* from my family to yours.

Take care,

Brienne Michelle said...

I completely agree. Could you imagine if Polio and Smallpox came back? People forget what it was like to live in a society where infectious diseases robbed families of loved ones regularly - it's why medical science produced vaccines at all. And they've almost worked TOO well and people forget. Thank you for starting to raise more awareness about this. Vaccination schedules with children may be a debatable subject, but vaccinations period? I don't think so.

And no, I didn't know they could wear off. I've got a 1 year old at home and I'm asking the doctor TODAY about my vaccines. For him. For other children I come in contact with. And yes, because of Gavin.

Thank you.

Annie Link said...

If we feel a responsibility to care for and protect our fellow man/woman--especially the tiniest ones, who are most likely to die from these diseases--then yes, it seems our heart felt conscience would make us see it as our duty to keep our vaccinations current. Most of these viruses are active and communicable long before we ever show the first symptoms. We can be dangerous carriers and not even be aware of it.

In the pre-vaccination era, pertussis (whooping cough) was a leading cause of infant death. The number of cases reported then decreased by more than 99% from the 1930's to the 1980's. (Prior to the vaccination scares). The more current numbers show an increase of more than 2300% for this disease between the years 1976 and 2005. (numbers taken from WebMD)

The sad truth: Pertussis is, once again, a signifiant cause of death in infants younger than 2 years.

I just hate to think that other families might, needlessly, go through the loss and pain we have experienced.

Jared West said...

Agree. Just got my booster last week because of Gav. Just walked in asked, done. Thanks for making us aware.

Beth said...

I am the one who left the comment about Natalie's blog leading to my pertussis diagnosis.

Get your booster shot. Pertussis might not be fatal in adults, but it is a miserable disease. The only way to explain the cough is as "violent". It feels like my chest is going to rip open when I cough. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. It's easy to think "Oh, it's just a long cold. I'd rather just get it and let my body deal with it naturally than take the vaccine" I promise, you don't want it, even as a healthy adult. It's nothing to mess around with.

But I feel incredibly fortunate that Natalie has been writing her blog, (and that I was lead to read Natalie's story) so I was aware of the illness and could take care to avoid spreading it unknowingly

Heather said...

I may become obsessed with reading everyone's comments. If the "Autism and vaccination" subject comes up, I'm sending my best-ie AJ over here to set everyone straight.

Natalie. said...

no no no. please no one talk about autism. this is about adults remaining current on their shots. not anything more or less. unless adults are afraid that they will suddenly contract autism from their pertussis booster. . . ?? :)

Love you guys.

This was really going out on a limb for me in my oh so raw state. . . so please, tread softly.

Natalie. said...

doesn't Beth just make you want to grab her face and kiss her once on each cheek?!

Brittany said...

I agree. I also haven't thought about myself and my husband getting re-immunized, but will definitely look into it. I have no problem getting my daughter immunized...even if she ends up with a little fever for a couple of days (which she never has), that is much better then getting some fatal disease. And don't you think that if immunizations caused Autism, like some people believe they do, that the majority of children would have it?

Candace said...

Absolutely. Thank you for telling us this, I had no idea they wear off, I will talk with my dr about it when I have my annual exam next week. Thank you, Natalie, for being so brave. I hope God is offering you constant healing. I can't imagine experiencing what you have and you will always be in my prayers and in my heart.

Launa said...

Totally agree!

Beth said...

You're incredibly sweet, Natalie. Virtual kiss cheeks, I'll accept. I haven't let my husband or kids kiss me in a month in real life (I know the antibiotics mean I'm not contagious, but better safe than sorry)

When I start to get frustrated that I have this, and will most likely be dealing with it for several months, I think of your story and I feel incredibly fortunate that even though the recovery is long, it's better than the alternative of not recovering. In a weird way, I feel incredibly blessed that the particular bacterium that happened to make it's way into my system---the system of a healthy adult---did not land in a defenseless newborn.

Emily said...

I agree! I actually contracted pertussis while volunteering at a summer camp 5 years ago. It was then I learned that immunity can wane. I still got my pertussis booster when I renewed my tetanus just in case!

Anonymous said...

This is the person that left the link about the article you asked no one to talk about. I was not trying to offend anyone and I never would want to hurt anyone. I thought it was a very informative article and that one may be interested in it. I apologize if it was not exactly on topic.

Jared West said...

Talked by my baby sister today who had her second baby born 2 days ago. They GAVE her the booster shot in the hospital, her husband got his and my whole family is now getting it. FACT: IT IS ON THE RISE, and we SHOULD be responsible and keep ourselves vaccinated so we don't spread sickness to the innocent little ones. Ptertussis was a leading cause of death in the early 1900's BEFORE the vaccine, now it's on the rise again and the thing we can do is get our booster. LOVE LOVE LOVE Beth too!!!!!

leaslooks said...

I'm torn in a million ways regarding vaccines. I won't go into it here because I know what I think and don't need justify by beliefs BUT my BFF's daughter was diagnosed with Pertussis last year. This child was fully immunized, too, and still contracted it. She got over it but it took a long time and she felt very poorly and missed quite a bit of school, too.

While vaccines are a great prevention, they are NOT 100%. It's something to think about and realize that just because you got a shot it doesn't mean that you can't or won't get it. People need to think about this when they take a potentially ill child out and about town or themselves....

Lots of hugs to you, Natalie. The road you are travelling is a road that no mother ever wants to go down.

Anonymous said...

Even though vaccinations are not 100%, those who have been vaccinated and contract an illness generally have less severe cases than those who have not been vaccinated. So in my opinion, thank goodness that little girl had the vaccination to help her fight the illness.

Fran said...

Hey Natalie, I think I posted a comment about this on Heather's blog. Came across a full page ad in last months Parenting magazine for the Adult whooping cough Vaccine. Everyone should check it out, it has an audio of what a child sounds like with whooping cough, and it is painful to hear. It might change your mind on getting yourself vaccinated.


Love and hugs Natalie from NC, Still praying.

Shari said...

I have been silently following your blog and though your trial has been hard, your faith and courage has strengthened me. I am a special education teacher and have followed the research on the link to autism and vaccinations and just yesterday the medical journal that posted that study retracted it saying that it used false information. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/speced/2010/02/famous_study_linking_autism_to.html#comments
So of now there is officially no research backing up that link. Thank you for sharing your story with the world so others are aware of the decisions people make really do affect other people.

Tress said...

I very much agree-having lost my 8 month old son to the unknown (it could have been a virus but they never could figure it out in the end) guides me in taking every precaution I can in making sure our daughter does not die from the unknown. I can live w/ autism (if vaccines really cause that-I tend to believe doctors w/ degrees more than a celebrity who has posed for adult content magazines and is airbushed on those as well and who does not believe she is capable of having a special needs child therefore she blames someone else-sorry about the ranting) but I cannot handle losing another child and possibly to an error I may have made.

Tress said...

I forgot to add that are son was vaccinated, they did not know what had taken his life since they administered antibiotics immediately into his system as a precaution.

leaslooks said...

Just to clear up some misinformation...there is more than one physician that is board certified in preventative medicine (ie vaccines) that agrees that certain vaccines could trigger autism.

I'm not being snarky, at all, just wanting to be informative to some that may never have had the opportunity or need to research.

Anonymous said...


I've been stewing over the comment you made about discussing autism. Was that directed at me because I posted that link to the article on CNN? Or was it because of what Heather said in the comment just before yours? My heart is wrenching over this.

Anonymous (The one who said they were a nurse and also posted apologizing if I offended anyone.)

Marti said...


I am an infectious disease research nurse (along with being a mommie to two beautiful daughters). I work down the hall from our hospital epidemiologist and on Monday I sat myself down in his office and told him we needed to start a campaign to educate adults (especially the OB/GYN's and L&D nurses)about getting our TDap boosters (the tetanus booster that contains the pertussis booster as well).

He has two small kids and agreed.

There is a great opportunity to have OB's educate pregnant women to get vaccinated before they leave the hospital. And, to vaccinate husbands and grandparents. He was taking it to the infectious disease planning committee and they are figuring out how to educate the hospital staff.

Your Gavin made me do it. And, the baby girl I saw two years ago die from the same thing at our Children's Hospital.

Don't stop talking about it. People will push back and say mean things but it doesn't matter. Keep talking and you can save lives.

Natalie. said...


haha! sorry you're having anxiety over this!

Heather's comment is the one that got me worrying about it. . . it's ok for me to say that out loud, because she's my sister in law. :)

No one needs to worry for a single second. No one has offended me. I just want THIS PARTICULAR discussion to be on topic: adults and vaccinations.

Eventually we can discuss more, but for now, let's just try to stick to the subject at hand.

I also recognize that people normally comment before they read the comments so people may not even be aware of my request. :)

NO WORRIES. Sorry to have given you a heart attack.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for responding to me. I really was upset about it ever since I saw your comment. And as for adults being vaccinated. I agree. Thanks.

Natalie. said...


Thank you for sharing that with me, and thank you for your dedicated efforts.

There's a huge gap here that the medical community as a whole needs to recognize. NO ONE REALIZES their shots are not good for life! I have been in for annual checkups for the last gazillion years and no one has a said a WORD to me about vaccinations since I was a kid.


Thank you again!!!

and thank you for the encouragement. I'm so non confrontational on issues like this in general that this is really going out on a limb for me. I appreciate you being supportive. It means the world.


Tress said...

Sorry Natelie-I got way off subject on that one. I was thinking about as I was cleaning and thought "she was talking about adults not children, duh-she even requested that" I came back to see if my comment was deleted-you are more then welcome to remove it since it deals w/ children.
I do believe as adults we do have a responsibility to make sure we are not spreading life threatening diseases on to little ones.
Thank you and blessings to you!

Natalie. said...

Tress, DON'T SWEAT IT! Not for a single second!

A zillion loves!


Dria said...

I am 49 - I didn't have the pertussis vaccine (I had the d & T not the P) I was prone to high fevers as an infant and had 2 fibril seizures along with adverse reactions to other vaccines- Dr was wary that "pertussis vaccine" was contra-indicated in my case. My 1st born- (premie- 29 weeks - was just too much like me - and he never had the "P" part either-- We had to watch him like a hawk and kept him in most o the time.. well enough said-- he has made it to 19 without ever contracting the disease-- thanks be to God.

Kirsten said...

Thank you - this is a great post! I hope it gives us all something to think about it.

One of the (many) reasons I'm vaccinating my child is because I couldn't handle being responsible if they somehow contracted a dangerous disease and then passed it on to another child. But until now, I've never thought about the responsibilty that I have to keep myself healthy and protected as well.

Perkins said...

Most of us want what is best for our children. It should be human nature.Right? One thing I hope we can all agree on is, wash your hands not just rinse wash them! And stay home if you or your children are sick. We all get sick differently.
Just the simple basics to keep in mind;)

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness! Thank you so much for posting this. I have a 6 week old baby and my mother shows these symptoms. There are no words for how thankful I am to read this...I had no idea.

Anonymous said...

I know this is the vaccination post, but read this tonight...

"When people rise from the dead...they will be like the angels in heaven." Matthew 22:30

and pictured baby Gavin curled up asleep on a cloud snuggled under his angel wings.

Ashlee said...

I delivered my baby girl in November 2009 and the hospital I delivered at made sure that I recieved my boosters before I went home. Thank goodness or I never would have known.
I totally agree that as adults we need to be more responsible with sickness in general.The best way to stop spreading communicable diseases is to quarantine the sickness. Im so glad that Sandy recognized the symptoms and quarantined herself. I applaud her for being so responsible.
Thanks for spreading the word Natalie! My prayers are with you and your family.
Ashlee, Portland OR

Maly and Dan said...

I am up for another shot in a year! I am on it. Thanks for reminding me. I AGREE 110%!

Fran said...

Natalie, Isn't it amazing that no dr's ever say anything about being updated on your vaccines. My obgyn never has mentioned it, not once in all three preganancy. I was lucky enough to have a father who is a pediatrcian that reminded me to have it done before I got pregnant. I am so glad they are at least starting to advertise, they even have J.lo campaigning for it. Thank you for trying to protect all the sweet babies out there.

Amy said...

So glad you are spreading the word! I delieverd a baby boy in September, and the hospital I delivered at gave info to me about the importance of getting the TDap. My hubby is a pediatrician, so he also urged me to get it...seen too mnay babies with pertussis and knows how dangerous it is. I was hesitant because I was afraid of it hurting (big baby, I know), but I didn't feel a thing! I still wish they would have stuck me while i was numb from my epidural! I just know fear of pain can be a barrier to people getting vaccinations, but it really did not hurt at all.

Thank you for spreading the word, and protecting our babies.

kara said...

thank you.
i didn't know that.

Ashley said...

I got a pamphlet from my OB about pertussis. According to the brochure, over 75% of babies catch the disease from a close family member. I have family who refuses to get vaccinated because of misconceptions they have and also refuse to see a doctor when they're sick and have gotten us sick because of it. Many times.

After following your story, I'm now aware of how dangerous this can be. Not only will my husband and I get the update (my daughter is already vaccinated) I'm going to be keeping them away from our baby until he's up to date on his vaccines.


Sabrina said...

I have had all of my boosters. When I got pregnant the first time (and subsequently miscarried) my OB suggested getting shots and also some titers to see how much chicken pox immunity and other immunities I had in my system. As soon as I recovered physically from the miscarriage, I went in and had all of the boosters and everything. Also, the tetanus shot lasts 5 years now, and if you get poked by something rusty, you need to get another shot ASAP (according to the nurse). Our pedi thought my daughter had pertussis at 5 weeks, Thank God, she didn't. However, I also have family that does not believe in boosters, and I'm not sure my inlaws have ever had shots at all-? My kids are all vaccinated, and I will never, ever forget how close we came to having a very, very sick baby. I'm pretty convinced she got whatever it was she had from either my son brining it home from school, or from going to the grocery store (my husband travels almost constantly, I have to take all the kids with me when I got...regardless of age). I prayed and prayed and prayed so hard that it just be a cold, I was so frightened.

angela said...

Just adding my two cents that YES, Natalie, you are absolutely correct that no one realizes the shots don't last (or may be ineffective in the first place). My body is apparently unable to maintain the MMR immunity for any extended period of time, even though I get a booster EVERY time I leave the hospital after having a baby. My OB says I am certainly not the only person like this. I have been terrified for years that I would somehow contract rubella while pregnant...and now reading your story (alas) I am terrified again that I might contract something (anything) and pass it on. Yikes. Let's all tell everyone we know.

I am so very sorry (like, seriously, there are no words) for the loss of your darling boy.

Anonymous said...

While I do not want to diminish what happened to you AT ALL, but I do think people will have valid reasons for not wanting to get vaccinated as adults. This is one (though I understand RARE) reaction that made the news - http://www.myfoxdc.com/dpp/health/101309_woman_disabled_by_flu_shot_reaction_dystonia. I imagine that family is devastated that she did get the shot.

I've been vaccinated for several various things as an adult, btw. I know that people need to weight the pros and cons and the chance that yes, they could infect another person or baby and would they be able to live with themselves knowing they did or even could do that? And as a commenter above stated, people are often vaccinated that don't become immune to the disease, and that's a whole other problem. There have also been hundreds (thousands?) of cases of girls having severe reactions and being disabled or dying from the HPV vaccine. One girl took something like 6 steps after getting the shot and collapsed (just using it as an example that adults can have serious reactions to vaccines).

Melissa and Allen said...

I have an 18 month old son whom I have not vaccinated at all. I have been very confused on what to do with all the conflicting information. I have had some heated debates about vaccines on my blog within the last year. I just wanted to let you know that your story has given me that final push in deciding to start the immunizing process on my son at his next appointment. I plan to do a slower approach than most Pediatricians usually suggest, but I am to the point now where I feel comfortable about vaccinating him slowly. Thanks for your sharing your story and inspiration. I pray for you every day.

Amy said...

I do agree. There are certain vaccines I keep my self up to date on for just that reason. DtaP is a big one.

Just so you know too, you can have a simple blood test to test for immunity for most diseases though. It will tell you if you need a specific vax.

Stephanie said...

wholeheartedly YES i do agree!!!!

Wendy Holmes said...

Question: Are there (gnarly) risks to being vaccinated as an adult?

I'm only just becoming educated on the subject, thanks to you, Natalie. I had my first child in September, and I spend every single flippin' day concerned that I'm doing everything in her BEST interest.

I'm just not sure why people have to get so heated about things like this. It's obviously not for me to tell someone how they should feel. But, as for me, I feel the wisdom in what you posted, and I'm happy to update my boosters(?) if it means I'm doing my part to protect those who can't protect themselves from me!

How on earth could anyone not want to do everything they can do to protect babies? So there are risks to adult vaccinations. I think I can honestly say that I'd rather risk having my own negative effects from being vaccinated, than not get vaccinated and risk being the one to spread an infectious disease to someone as helpless as a baby.

I don't want to make anyone mad. I'm just a young mom that isn't "educated" on everything, so I'm talking from the heart. Call me ignorant. I just feel like it's my calling, as a mother, to protect the little children. Maybe it's my own downfall to assume that all mothers would share these same feelings.

Either way, Natalie, I'm glad you're being a voice for the rest of us. Most of us moms aren't aware of everything we need to protect our youngsters from, so it's a relief to know their are ladies like you lookin out for us! I could go on and on, but this is a comment page.

Praying for you. Loving you from california! -Wendy

Finding My Way Back... said...

I had no idea that vaccinations expire and considering I have a nearly 2 yr old who is chronically sick with colds, congestion, chest coughing etc... I am going to call her pediatrician today to be 110% sure she has gotten all the necessary vaccines she ought to have had at this age. And my husband and I and our 4 yr old are all going to be getting stabbed in the arm asap in order to get whatever vaccines we can have. My feeling is that it is irresponsible for adults to NOT be vaccinated because it is we, the adults, not the babies who can't yet be vaccinated, who are we responsible for passing these deadly diseases on to innocent little babies like your son.

I work in a school and am going to do my best to pass on some of this info to staff because I suspect that many of my colleagues, like myself, don't realize that our vaccinations have likely expired.

Thank you for the education and for shedding light on such an important topic.

As always, I am so terribly sorry for your loss and though I don't know you, every bit of love and sorry in my heart goes out to you and your family.


Addie said...


I could write a thesis here, but I'll go for a few quick points:

1) My husband, a pediatrician, calls it "socially irresponsible" instead of a civic duty if that helps people get over the government connotation.

2) The "My kids never got them and I'm okay" he compares to saying I ride in a car without a seat belt and haven't gotten killed: True, it happens. You may just get minor complications. But I have a cousin who got in a one car accident (in his police car) TWICE in a week -- same road, same time of night. The first time he flew into the back seat of the car (through the police cage-thing). Unfortunately you can't ask him about the second. The windshield popped off (intact) and he flew out of the car... and died.
As you know, pertussis (and many other diseased) can kill.

3) Luckily, in New Orleans we were all REQUIRED before returning for Katrina to get a TDap b/c of all of the Tetanus here. I'm sure a few people didn't do it, but I was first in line.

4) The reason it is a TDap now is b/c the pertussis strain changed right before then. There was an outbreak of pertussis in early summer 2005 (here at least) and they had to change the vaccine.

Sorry for the long reply, but there can be an excuse for anything. To each his own, as long as it doesn't put someone else's life at risk.

Jana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly said...

Natalie, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Thank you for the info about adult vaccines. I think about tetanus whenever I get a metal scrape, but never about boosters for other things. My hubby is a surgeon and I never even knew. As for side effects, there will always be horrible freak-ish reactions to things in some people. It's just an unfortunate fact. Devastating to those who suffered, yes, but you can't discontinue a practice that is good for the whole because of a few instances of bad reactions. I, for one, will continue vaccinating and check on my boosters.

Thank you and I'm continuing to pray for you and your family during this time. Loves and hugs from the midwest.

P.S. - I think it's awesome how you connect with and reply to your commenters. So sweet and kind. You are a great example of grace.

Lindsay said...

I am at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, and we talk a lot about why some people refuse to be vaccinated. One issue is that our generation has benefited so much from vaccinations that we take things for granted. We never had to watch someone suffer with polio, so we do not understand the value of the polio vaccine. When the polio vaccine first came out, parents and families were lining up for hours to receive it because they knew the alternative. If infectious diseases continue to rise (as a result of declines in vaccinations) I expect that people might become more aware of the importance of vaccines.

Another issue is that most people rely on their doctor for all medical advice and do not look into issues themselves (from trustworthy sources- not just whatever you find on the Internet!). No offense to doctors, but there is a large gap between public health professionals and doctors. Doctors often focus on their patient at hand, and are not focused on population health as a whole. Some do not have an accurate understanding of the value of vaccines because their focus is on the individual.

Kelly said...

Good point, Lindsay. I'm only 35 but I know adults that are still crippled from polio and have seen old advertisements about vaccinations with kids using crutches and walking braces/devices. My mother-in-law's neighbor still suffers awful affects from it.

Natalie. said...


That is a really good point. I know I've said this before, but to watch Gavin suffer with pertussis. . . I guarantee you with all my soul that if a parent saw what I saw, and realized that THEY could pass that awful disease on to their child. . . they would be the very first people in line for their boosters. Like, they would RUN to the hospital, barefoot, uphill both ways, in the snow . . . GUARANTEED.

Thanks for your insight,


Anonymous said...

This is so important, I and my parents (whom frequently are in contact with my two boys) had the booster shot when my second son was born. (They put a little sticker on our book that records our childrens medical history and progress to remind parents and grandparents to get the shot).
My second son has severe food allergies and with one of immunisations (I think the measles) there was a risk of him having a reaction but we had him immunised by his specialist and he was fine.

Anonymous said...


I followed your journey with Gavin with prayers and tears. While Gavin was still with you I knew what you were going through and my heart ached. Almost 10 years ago my son and I contracted the virus pertussis, we thought we had a bad cough, until my 1-month-old daughter got sick. They tested for meningitis, negative…tested her for pertussis, sure enough, that was it. She fought with everything that was in her tiny self. Many times we thought she was going to leave us…for reasons that are unknown to us the Lord allowed her to stay here with us. I was always nervous about taking the kids in for their vaccinations; I did it, but not always right on time. I definitely dragged my feet. After what my daughter went through I am diligent about making sure the kids are current with their vaccines. I still get nervous but I do it anyway. For me, it’s about consequences and living my choices. The vaccines are there to protect us, not be harmful. Yes, sometimes, things go wrong. But more often than not, they offer us protection to the unseen. For me, I would find it difficult to live with the negative consequences if I chose not to vaccinate.

katie said...





To say those that choose not to vaccinate are uneducated, misinformed, under informed or just lazy is just wrong.

Anonymous said...

Hi Natalie,

This is my first time ever commenting on a stranger's blog, but I want you to know how grateful I am for you.

I, too, found your blog through a link shared by a friend. Your story and the way you write is deeply moving. I am not someone who cries often (not at my wedding or when my baby was born), but I found myself bawling as I pictured my 6 month old daughter going through what your Gavin went through.

I told my husband about your story and we discussed how grateful we are for our daughter and how precious our time with her is.

Then this week my husband developed an intense cough and because of your story I made him (a man who hasn't been to a doctor in 7 years)go to a doctor. I think you can guess the diagnosis- pertussis.

I have never been so glad that I watched my baby girl get stuck in the leg by the DTaP needle. We are so lucky she was old enough to have been vaccinated before my husband contracted it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for being willing to share your story. I am not sure I could ever be so brave.


L said...

Let it be known that there is a HUGE "mis-education" of the public. Vaccination or innoculation does not equal immunity. The medical community, ie ... the WHO, CDC Pharmaceutical companies, etc ... have very carefully crafted their language. To be immunized leads one to believe they are now immune from certain infectious diseases however that is not entirely true. True immunity is not found within the vile or syringe of a vaccination. It is found within you, once you have contracted the illness and your bodies natural and own defenses have obliterated the offenders. Natalie, as you learned vaccinations do wear off and you are once again left "vulnerable". But please don't assume that because of the very few members of society that choose not to vaccinate, disease rages on. And for those that do vaccinate why are you so worried ... after all your vaccinated. You are safe right?

Anonymous said...

Hey L up above....

I can't believe that you even had the nerve to say

"and for those that do vaccinate why are you so worried... after all you're vaccinated."

Tell that to Natalie and baby Gavin, who was too young to be vaccinated!!!

Christensen's said...

Thanks so much for this post and for all the info you have given us. I was totally unaware of this. I got my booster shot last week.


L said...

Dear Natalie, I am compelled to apologies if my words hurt or further wounded you in any way. The thought that my words may have done so has horrified me. That was not my intent. Please just know that because of the way you have intimately shared your experiences I am a better mom. Thank you!!

Natalie. said...



I'm not offended. :)



Cherry said...

Hi Natalie,

My baby girl came down with pertussis a year ago at around 11 weeks old. It was horrific. She managed to recover, so I don't even know the tiniest fraction of what you went through with your precious Gavin--but it was still the worst thing I have ever been through yet in my life. It was also enough for me to know immunizations are crucial. Infectious disease ARE making a comeback. This one in particular hit my house with a vengeance, sickening both my children and me and my husband. My pediatrician often says she wishes we had a video of one of my baby's paroxysms to show patients who refuse to vaccinate. None of us thought to do that at the time--we were too busy trying to get her to take her next breath.

It's such a hotly debated topic, I commend you for having the courage to speak out. It's so easy for me to get angry about people who ignore this issue--because they haven't seen what we've seen--and so I remain in awe of your sweet spirit.

I'm so devastated for your loss, and my prayers are with you and your family.

STAG said...

Anything I say is merely trite, so I shall simply extend my sincere condolences, and solemly promise that I shall get my booster shots. If it hurts me, (unlikely at this stage) thats fine...I'm an old man...I don't matter near as much as my partner's new son. If that is "civic duty", fine. But I prefer to take that tiny risk rather than suggest that the newborn take a much bigger one. They got enough troubles...

Natalie. said...


I don't feel like I've said or even implied that people who "choose not to vaccinate are uneducated, misinformed, under informed". I am talking specifically about adults and immunizations. I'm sorry if you felt attacked or offended by the post. Unintended.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for having the courage and strength to open up this conversation of vaccines. I'm thinking you would be a great public spokesperson for adult vaccinations. (We NEED one.) You should consider it... Not now - I know your pain is too raw, but maybe down the road...

Anonymous said...

This is a little late, but PLEASE read alternative--i.e. non-AMA approved--points of views before making such a life-altering decision as vaccination. A good place to start: www.naturalnews.com/027203_vaccination_health_vaccines.html. We do not live in a perfect world, and do not get all the information we need to live healthy lives from doctors. The medical industry is in business to make a profit, and where would they be if we were all well? I used to trust whatever my doctors said, but now at 52 years of age and many years of careful research, I have decided to find alternative ways to wellness. I am the only one responsible for my health, and not any doctor. I completely understand your pain and the fear from losing a baby to a communicable disease, and hope you find the solace you need. I know this is a difficult time, but try to find the lesson learned from this experience. It is NOT to get vaccinated, IMHO. Peace and love to you.

Anonymous said...

Here is some important information from the article mentioned in my post above:

"In the New England Journal of Medicine July 1994 issue a study found that over 80% of children under 5 years of age who had contracted whooping cough had been fully vaccinated."

"Immune systems are even harmed by vaccinations because even though they may protect the body from one strain of infectious disease, they weaken the immune system against future strains."

"Scientific medicine has taken credit it does not deserve for some advances in health. Most people believe that victory over the infectious diseases of the last century came with the invention of immunizations. In fact, cholera, typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough, etc, were in decline before vaccines for them became available - the result of better methods of sanitation, sewage disposal, and distribution of food and water."

"Of course each person must weigh all of the evidence and data and then decide what is best for themselves and their families. This information is provided to help the reader make an informed and educated decision on this subject and to come out from under the ideas that we have been led to believe that vaccination automatically equals 100% immunity to disease."

See also: www.vaccinationdebate.com.

Please, please, PLEASE, educate yourself and don't take any one viewpoint as truth. That's what God gave us brains for.

Anonymous said...

Vaccinations don't "wear off", the virus mutates and creates a different version of the disease. That's why vaccinations are not effective, and even destroy our health in the long run. Every vaccination creates a hyper-immune response in your body, which then causes damage to the immune system.

Please read more: www.naturalnews.com/025595.html

I know I'm going on, but thinking of all the precious babies who could be hurt because their parents didn't get both sides of the story before making their decision was heartbreaking. There is ALWAYS more than conventional thought, more than one side to every story.

May you find peace and solace in your heart and mind. May God bless you and your family.

Natalie. said...


Thank you for respectfully sharing this information. This is, however, a discussion on adults and vaccination. There is NO discussion here regarding children/babies. We are talking about parents and caregivers. I will forever maintain that parents and care givers (particularly of very small infants), with fully developed brains and immune systems have a social responsibility to be vaccinated.

Thank you again for sharing your thoughts, however for this post, I'd like people to stay on issue.

Perhaps we will ultimately open a discussion on children and vaccinations at which point, I'd love to have you share your thoughts.

Thank you again,


the dunns said...

I have a love hate relationship with these kind of discussions.... I love to read them, but then I hate how fired up I get. I swore to myself that I wasn't going to get into this one but I just can't help myself.

I hate, hate, hate when people try to make the medical field seem like a big conspiracy theory, only out to make money. Someone above (I can't remember who) just acted like those in the medical field are glad that people get sick and injured so that we can make a buck or two (I am a nurse). The advances that medical science makes every day are a huge blessing to all of us.

To any doubters... just know that if tomorrow you were in a serious car accident those so called doctors (that apparently know nothing) would do everything in their power to save your life and your family members with their "scientific medical advances" whether you like them or not.... and you would sing a whole different tune.

Not exactly on note with the discussion.... but ahhh, so annoying. More on topic, I work on labor and delivery and I know that we really push for moms to update their vaccinations before going home, but after hearing about Gavin I want to try to get a program started of also vaccinating dads and siblings at the same time. Then it would just be taken care of all at once for those that choose. I am sure that there would be a cost, because that is what it is really about RIGHT (wink, wink)? But I think that if we had a story like Natalie's people would really understand the importance.

Some day when you are ready Natalie, I think that you really could help make some big changes!!!

Natalie. said...

The Dunns,

I'm ready.



Tracy said...

I can't read one of your posts without getting a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. My heart aches for you!

My choice for my children has always been to trust their pediatrician about vaccinations. I picked their pediatrician because of her knowledge where I had none, and for that reason I trust her judgement.

I have several friends that refuse to vaccinate or they delay vaccinations, and it is really bothersome that because of their choice their child could potentially get a disease and expose my children to it. Unfortunately that means that the parents who chose to NOT vaccinate their children are choosing to also endanger my children and the rest of the children around them. Doesn't seem fair does it...

Tracy said...

Whoops...just saw your comment that this post was to be strictly about vaccinations for parents and caregivers. Forgive my previous comment!

Hannah said...


I used to read your blog a lot ages ago and just came back to find this. I read all the Baby Gavin posts and I want to say that I am so, so, so sorry for your loss.

I agree with you 110% about vaccinations. My cousin's baby son, born in December, came very close to dying following contracting pertussis. He is not out of the wood yet, either. If people had been conscious enough to keep their vax up to date, maybe he would not be so sick.

As for autism comment - a lot of research is coming out completely disproving this link.

TB is on the rise as well thanks to people not vaccinating. Why are we so insistent that the medical field is out to get us rather than assist us?

Frankie said...

I coughed my way around getting (I thought) suddenly older and older) for 2 months. The doctor didn't do a test and just told me I had a virus that would go away.

How many people might I have infected in that time I wonder?

another wonderful doctor got me the pertussis diagnosis and we took 3 months to get my body right from all the damage done to my system.

I never knew the vaccinations only last 15 years. I will have another one when I am 84.

Please get vaccinated

Susan said...

Natalie, I love that you have included that adults need to be aware that their immunizations need to be updated. So many people don't realize that they wear off. They get angry at people who don't vaccinate their children, while they themselves aren't current on their immunizations.

I think that people need to do what is best for their family, but also remain conscious of those around them.

Frankie said...

exactly..they are bombarding us to get the flu immunisations why not add on the whooping cough one. Why not have it on hand to offer to everyone who visits their doctor

Natalie. said...

I wish that OBGYNs would make sure ALL patients were current upon conception. We have to go in SO.MANY.TIMES between when we go in for confirmation of pregnancy to delivery, it seems absurd that NO.ONE. ever thinks to mention it!

heather telford photography said...

I loved how heather commented and said this

"making a choice to not vaccinate is selfish. You are contaminating your entire city with diseases and germs and putting people in fatal harm by not vaccinating. "

I believe in this %100 My Doctor told me when I was debating vaccines. "would you rather see your child get a shot (vaccine) or see them lying dead from shaking so hard it snaps there spine in two." (meningitis )..

I do know that it was a very profound statement and I know we are talking about adults but like someone said in an earlier comment if you are walking living human being it is your civil duty to be vaccinated.. and I believe this includes children I feel from mother to mother we should and friend to friend we should all respect this. Thank you SO much for your honesty on these discussions I is VERY refreshing.
You have been in my thought and prayers since day 1..
and from one photographer to another you do AMAZING work..


Susan said...

I don't think that is what this discussion is about. I believe the topic was about parents/adults staying current, not about vaccinating children.

And, that being the case, I just want to completely agree with Natalie, (again) about the issue when she said, "I will forever maintain that parents and care givers (particularly of very small infants), with fully developed brains and immune systems have a social responsibility to be vaccinated."

Very well put, and very important!

mindi said...

SO sorry for your loss. my daughter died five years ago. such a long hard road. thanks for posting on this topic. i read all 99 comments above and thought this may be helpful for some readers wondering what vaccines they as adults may need in order to become current on recommendations:


immunize.org is a great resource overall. i am a pharmacist and utilize it as a comprehensive reliable source of vaccine information.

i hope you find some comfort in educating others. your efforts will save lives.
lots of love,

LakelandMom said...

First of all, I'm just coming to your blog after a link from a friend. I am so extremely sorry for your loss! Gavin is now a sweet angel who is looking over other little babies as you share your story and spread the word about adult immunizations!!!

Back in mid-2004, my husband & both contracted Whooping Cough from my mother who had "a little cough". We didn't know that whooping cough was something we could contract from our immunizations wear off. We knew something was "off" with our cough and we went our doctors and hospital no fewer than 6 times in 3 weeks. At our second emergency room visit they finally did a pertusis test which came back positive. At that time whooping cough was just starting to make a resurgence and so most of the doctors we came in contact also didn't know that adults needed boosters. A year afterwards there was a huge outbreak and the information came to light. I'm glad that we tried to be vigilent about getting medical help and that by week four we finally had antibiotics but to think that during that time I may have inadvertently injured or even killed a little baby is heart-wrenching (we did try to quarantine ourselves for the most part...but my heart is still nagged).

{steps on soapbox}

Well here's to another adult vaccine that people need to keep in mind although it is just as controversial as immunizing children...the H1N1 vaccine.

Sadly the vaccine wasn't widely available to the public soon enough to help out my family. Someone with swine flu infected us in early October.

Now many of you, as adults, probably have not gotten your H1N1 vaccine but please know this is JUST AS DEADLY to children (infants to teens) as pertusis is!

My child (age 18 months) contracted swine flu from someone around us. Keep in mind, H1N1 spreads easier than whooping cough.

Long story short, my child ended up having a seizure when we were coming back from the doctor office. Her eyes rolled back into her head, she became unresponsive, started vomiting, aspirated & choked on it, and then stopped breathing - all in the space of a few seconds. Luckily we were able to get an ambulance to us within a few minutes and she was saved & stabilized.

She suffered H1N1 complications for FOUR months (bronchitis, pneumonia, coughing, etc). After her 5th round of antibiotics she is finally starting to improve but she has permanent scarring, has lost weight, is now anemic, and has to be seen every other week by our local Children's Hospital in pulmonary and occupational therapy.

Sadly, a 10-year-old in our neighborhood and a pregnant mom one town over lost their lives to swine flu last fall. :(

Please realize that while H1N1 may just seem like a nuisance cold or flu in terms of symptoms that it too can be deadly to others whose bodies may not be able to fight it off.

ADULTS - please get immunized against H1N1 so you can save prevent another baby's death!!!!!

{steps off soapbox}

Natalie. said...


WOW. That is frightening.

I'm so glad your little one survived that terrifying experience.