This post was written by Sharyn Pitman, a mother who lost her 19-day-old baby to whooping cough, a vaccine-preventable disease. Now, Sharyn encourages other parents to get their kids vaccinated because she knows firsthand how heartbreaking it is to lose a child to a preventable disease. Read more about Sharyn here.

21 years ago, my baby daughter died from Whooping Cough (Pertussis). Amie was only 19 days old.

She was too young to be vaccinated against Whooping cough and the pregnancy and adult booster shot that offers ongoing protection against the disease, wasn’t available at that time. Since Amie’s death, I have continued to advocate for immunisation awareness and to tell Amie’s story. I do so in the hope of sparing other families the lifelong heartache that we carry as a family from losing our child to a preventable disease. I also speak out in favour of vaccines because babies and young children are unable to advocate for themselves. They rely on us as parents and caretakers to make the correct decisions for them.

As a parent I understand how daunting reading and understanding a lot of information can be, as well as making the right decision in regards your child’s health and wellbeing. I listen to the experts and I trust the science and reputable studies that have gone into the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. I always consult my qualified health provider if I have any concerns.

Whooping cough can be particularly fatal in an unvaccinated baby, elderly person or an immuno-compromised person. Whooping cough does not discriminate. It’s a vicious disease.

My baby was born healthy. On day 16, she showed minor signs of being ill. Even under the care of the highest paediatric specialist, she deteriorated very quickly. The toxins took over too quickly before her little body could even fight back. Amie experienced seizures, gasped for breath until she turned blue and her brain was starved of oxygen. Her organs failed and shut down one by one before, finally, her heart stopped beating forever.

Amie died only three days after falling ill.

I urge anybody who is vaccine hesitant or who questions the severity of whooping cough, to read Amie’s story. Please speak to your health providers in regards to what vaccines are available to your family.

Vaccines work and do save lives.

Want to share your reason why you vaccinate your child? We encourage moms and dads to tell us why you #GiveYourKidsAShot on TwitterFacebook or Instagram along with a picture of you and your kids and tag @sabinvaccine. To read what other parents have to say, click here.