Increasing Pertussis Awareness Through Personal Stories
Oct 12, 2012

As her infant son Brady battled pertussis, Kathy shared her hopes and fears with her friends on Facebook.  Her brief, but heartfelt updates revealed the emotional rollercoaster she experienced during the weeks before she had to say her final goodbye to her two month old son.  In the days that followed, Brady’s parents, Jon and Kathy, anguished over their loss and longed to try to save other children from the same fate.
As they mourned the loss their son, their passion for advocacy was born.
They decided that they wanted to help educate others on the dangers of pertussis and the importance of Tdap shots and so they contacted Every Child By Two.  They have since been able to share Brady’s story through various television and newspaper interviews and in a blog post here on Shot of Prevention. They were special guests at a recent immunization conference where they were able to receive valuable education and training from public health communicators.  And most recently, they have agreed to add Brady’s story to the Shot By Shot website, a public resource which hosts personal accounts of vaccine preventable diseases.
Unfortunately, Brady’s story is one of many pertussis stories that can be viewed on the Shot By Shot site.  Visitors can also hear the stories of Kaliah, June, Carter, Gavin, Dylan, Sebanna, Colin, Kaden and others.
As we face outbreaks of pertussis all across this country, infant children who are not yet fully immunized, are increasingly at risk of contracting this dangerous and sometimes deadly disease.  In Washington state alone, there have been 4,307 cases of pertussis reported through October 6th of this year, compared to 495 reported cases in 2011 during the same time period.
This is why we must continue to generate awareness every way we know how.  Sure, there are lots of websites that will explain the disease and provide details about the DTap and Tdap vaccines. However, personal stories have proven effective at educating parents – especially expectant parents – of the need for adult Tdap boosters that can help protect their newborn babies before they are old enough to be vaccinated themselves.
We are thrilled to hear that Brady’s story has already been viewed over 2,300 times on Shot by Shot this week.   We know that parents everywhere want to protect their newborns. But we also know that many parents are unfamiliar with pertussis.  They are unaware of the dangers and often oblivious to the fact that there are many outbreaks occurring all across the country.  However, stories like Brady’s help parents realize that pertussis is a real concern, especially for those too young to be vaccinated.  They learn that they can help protect those vulnerable members of our community by getting themselves vaccinated and ensuring that others that come into contact with young children are also vaccinated.
As Jon and Kathy continue to share Brady’s story, we ask you to do the same.
Email the link to your friends and family. Post it on your Facebook wall. Talk about it with an expectant friend or with other parents you know from work, school or your local playgroup.  And consider that every time you share this story, you just may be helping to save the life of precious child.

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