Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Dear Parents of all of my future students,

Please, for all that is holy, have your children immunized so that the sweet little darlings don't give me whooping cough ever again in my entire life. I know that you may have reasons why you choose not to immunize your children. But if they get sick with these preventable diseases, they can give them to those of us who are immunized. Like me. And if the last week and a half of my life is any indication, you DO NOT want your child, or anyone else, to get whooping cough. If you would spend just one day, or night, with me and hear the intense and body wracking coughing I go through, you would not wish it on your worst enemy, no less your precious children. You protect them in every other way. Why not protect them, and everyone else, from these illnesses? At least think about it.


P.S. To the family whose child gave me whooping cough: I forgive you and pray for your sweet daughter's healing, too. But if my own children get it, it will not be so easy to forgive.


Alyson said...

Oh man, I'm sorry that you're sick. I didn't realize you had Whooping cough. Scary!

I am a HUGE HUGE HUGE advocate for immunization. I think it's my background in microbiology. I've read all the propaganda on not immunizing, and it's 99% scare tactics, and very little science. Immunizations have eradicated a few major childhood diseases, and all but eradicated a few others. Unfortunately, some (like pertussis) are on the rise now that not immunizing is in vogue.

I hope you're feeling better soon!!!

Ada said...

After hearing you cough today I think I have a solution.
Doctors should show parents a video of a small child who has whooping cough. Make them watch this poor little thing cough and choke and then at the end put up these words "what if it was your baby". I guarantee there would more immunizations.

bobby ogburn said...

Hello, my names Bobby Ogburn, I'm a student at Washington State University writing for the Murrow News Service. I'm doing a story on whooping cough epidemics in Idaho and Washington, and I've been looking for someone to interview who's experienced it first hand because of children who have not been vaccinated. Would you mind answering a few questions about your experience with whooping cough? It would be great to hear about it from a teacher's perspective. You could just answer my questions over blog posts.

Thanks for your time,

Bobby Ogburn

Jen said...

Bobby, I'd be glad to answer whatever questions I can.

bobby ogburn said...

Hi Jen,

Thanks for getting back to me. I have a few questions pertaining to immunization and would love to here your opinions.

-Were you vaccinated for whooping cough before you contracted it?

-Why do you think disease's like whooping cough spread so quickly in school settings?

-Do you think children and their parents are exposed to enough awareness and education in schools like yours about preventable diseases?

-What would you say to parents who exempt their children from vaccinations because of personal and religous beliefs?

P.S. Could I have your full name and maybe an E-mail address so I can use you as an official source in my story?


Bobby Ogburn

Jen said...

I was vaccinated as a child and had all my boosters. I also had a tetanus shot just over 6 years ago which sometimes has a pertussis booster included, but I'm not sure if mine did. I'm trying to find out just out of curiosity. I was told by my chilren's pediatrician that he is suggesting boosters for all adults these days because of the high cases of pertussis and other preventable diseases.

I think these diseases spread so quickly because many kids are just learning to cover their coughs and sneezes and wash their hands effectively and often. Then they are closed up in a small room together sharing supplies and touching all the same doorknobs and light switches. Also, in the case of whooping cough, it is extremely contagious when it appears to be just a cold and by the time it's diagnosed it's already been spread.

I teach at a small private school and beyond teaching kids how to keep from spreading their germs, we don't have a specific curriculum to teach about these diseases. I'm not sure what public schools might be required to teach. To answer your question, I don't think parents and children are aware enough about these diseases. I don't think they know how many people still get them and how dangerous they can be. I know that when my own children were vaccinated, the doctors gave us information sheets about the vaccinations with a little information about the diseases, but beyond that, as a parent, I knew very little.

I respect parents' choices in doing what they believe is best for their children. However, in the case of vaccinations I think that choosing exemption is done out of fear and misunderstanding. I also think that there is even an element of irresponsibility toward the rest of their community. By not vaccinating their children, they put others at risk. I would encourage parents who choose exemption to do their homework and honestly weigh their options to compare the risk of getting these diseases to whatever risks they see in getting the vaccinations. And to thinking through their choice and what it means for their children's classmates and not just their own chidren. As far as religious reasons, I see vaccinations as one of the ways God gives us to protect ourselves and our children. I have never discussed this topic with parents who choose not to vaccinate on the basis of religion but hope to do so to try to understand their point of view. It's just so hard to understand not protecting our children in whatever ways available to us.

On a more personal note, whooping cough has been the most miserable illness I've ever experienced and I think that if parents could experience it for just a day they would not hesitate to do everything possible to prevent their children from getting it. My own children are fully vaccinated and I still took them to the doctor and had them take antibiotics to try to ensure that they didn't get it. I can't imagine a little child going through what I have.

Thanks for writing about this subject. Hopefully it will at least shine some light on the issue.

You can reach me at for other information and for my full name.