'She was not breathing': Ontario infant nearly dies of whooping cough
CTVNews,ca Staff, with a report from CTV Toronto's Scott Lightfoot
Published Friday, March 8, 2019 9:18AM EST
Last Updated Friday, March 8, 2019 9:47AM EST
An Ontario family is speaking out about the importance of new vaccination guidelines after their baby nearly died of whooping cough.
The household from Brantford, Ont. want to highlight new public health advice that recommends pregnant women should get a booster shot against the highly contagious respiratory infection.
Little Scarlett was one week shy of getting the immunization shot meant to protect her from whooping cough when she became infected in late January.
“There was one point when I heard what I thought was her choking,” Scarlett’s mom Rebecca Stonham told CTV Toronto.
“So I looked over and her lips and forehead were blue, she was not breathing at all.”
The tiny tot was eventually hospitalized for almost two weeks, including more than a week in pediatric intensive care.
A new recommendation from Canada’s national advisory committee on immunization suggests women should receive a booster shot while pregnant.
“That has been shown to be really effective to prevent the newborn from getting pertussis (whooping cough) because the antibodies from the mother get passed on to the child,” Dr. Vinita Dubey, associate medical officer for Toronto Public Health, told CTV Toronto.
“But we know that not all pregnant women are getting vaccinated. It’s a new recommendation and so it’s going to take time for even doctors to come on board to provide that vaccination.”
Health officials told CTV that those unsure of their vaccination history should speak to a doctor, especially if planning on having a baby, spending time around little ones or those with a compromised immune system.
Stonham first thought her baby had a bad cough, which the family doctor diagnosed as a viral infection and sent Scarlett home where things got worst.
“It’s like an out-of-body experience to see something that small, so tiny and so helpless and we can’t do anything to help,” Stonham said.
“There was nothing we could do to make her better, we just got to sit and watch, it was awful.”
Vaccine schedules for children are tracked by health authorities and shots for pertussis require boosters later in life.
Scarlett’s parents say they were up-to-date on their shots, though her father contracted the illness too.
“It’s important for you to know where you’re at with your vaccines,” Stonham said.
“If you’re going to be around a kid, you need to make sure you’re up to date.”