I’m Kathy and I have a Bachelor of Applied Science degree, specifically in the field of human nutrition. I’ve also acquired certificates in massage including remedial and shiatsu and I have an Advanced Diploma of Acupuncture. I believe in healthy eating habits and a healthy, active and natural lifestyle. I believe that vaccination can be part of that healthy, natural lifestyle.

I am not a Northern Rivers resident, but I regularly visit this beautiful and pristine region. I live just across the NSW border in QLD.

I am a mum of 3 young girls and they’ve all been vaccinated with no side effects. They do not have any chronic health issues and are robust and thriving girls.

My family have been personally affected and impacted by whooping cough. In 2002, a family member lost her newborn baby to this disease when he was just 8 weeks of age. This was extremely distressing and devastating, but at the time I considered it a rare event.

It wasn’t until I was personally affected that I began to realise how common and serious this disease is and how the diseases we vaccinate for are not trivial. In 2010, my second daughter contracted whooping cough when she was almost 3 years old.

I asked my family GP, why did she catch it if she was immunised? I thought whooping cough was an old disease that had gone away, or at least was very rare? He alerted me to the “hippys across the border”, how low vaccination pockets were hotbeds for the disease and how our populations mingle. I was unaware that childhood vaccination rates in the Northern Rivers region were at scarily low levels.

My daughter recovered quickly, but the cough was violent and very scary for that short period. It took over her little body and was out of our control. There was no treatment for it. She struggled to breathe, and all I could do was stay up during the night to coax her through the coughing fits and vomiting episodes.

At this time, I was 8 months pregnant with my third daughter. It was sheer luck that I didn’t contract whooping cough at this extremely risky time. When I was offered the booster after giving birth, I refused because I was unwell with mastitis. Stupidly, I did not follow up to get the booster afterwards and I contracted the disease later that same year when my new baby was 5 months old. My baby had received two vaccines by then and she did not contract the disease. It was obvious to me that the vaccine was effective for her, but I wondered why my vaccinated 3 year old had caught it.

So I began to delve into the research – why did one of my vaccinated daughters get the illness and not the others? Why did I catch it, despite being immunised as a child ? I discovered that the new pertussis vaccine my children received does not give long-lasting immunity and can wane as early as 3 years, but it usually lasts between 5 and 10 years. I discovered that the old pertussis vaccine that I received as a child was longer lasting, actually it lasted more than 40 years for me, but it still wasn’t for a lifetime. I learned that catching the disease ‘naturally’ does not give you lifetime protection either.

My eldest daughter did not contract whooping cough at all – likely because she’d recently received her 4 year old booster.

So yes, one of my vaccinated children did catch whooping cough. But the reason was waning immunity. When I contracted the disease I passed it onto other 4 other adults who had never received a booster and had all been in close contact with me. Our immunity had waned. Out of 7 immunised children who were in close contact with me, none of them caught it at that time. That says to me that the new pertussis vaccine does work, the majority of the time, it just wanes early.

Before my close encounter with whooping cough I was very much “each to their own”. But getting this disease and infecting others made me realise how important vaccination is for me, my family and surrounding community. It really terrifies me to this day how close we came to giving the disease to our little baby.

I also want to specify that vaccination is not a contradiction to living a healthy lifestyle. You can eat well, eat organic, be vegan, vegetarian, breastfeed, use cloth nappies, compost and ride a bicycle everywhere. And you can also vaccinate. You can enjoy the best of both worlds. You don’t have to choose one or the other.

I’ve also blogged on a few vaccination topics. You can find me here:


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