Riley Hughes died in March 2015 due to a whooping cough when he was only a month old. This led his parents, Catherine and Greg Hughes, to promote the need for pregnant mothers to get the whooping cough vaccination, something that they believe would have saved their child.
The Hughes pursued their advocacy for the vaccination, hoping that they will drive awareness about the potential tragic effect of the disease. Mrs. Hughes even posted the video of her son’s last moments on a Facebook page dedicated to Riley, called Light for Riley, writing “These are the final videos of our beautiful son Riley who passed away from whooping cough on the 17th of March, 2015.”
The video may be distressing to those who watch it, as it shows Riley’s cough before he was admitted to the hospital, how it worsened, and how it eventually ended his life. The Hughes made the video public in the hopes that it will teach other parents to be more attuned in spotting the symptoms of the dangerous disease, which include sneezing, breathing difficulties, and coughing.
When interviewed by the Australian news site, ABC, Mrs. Hughes said that their suffering and that of their baby is something that no other parent or baby should go through, hence their advocacy about the whooping cough vaccination.
Babies cannot be given the vaccination in the first few weeks of their young life, but medical studies show that women in their last trimester can get it to protect their infants. Mrs. Hughes said that as she has learned, the antibodies from the vaccination can be transmitted to the baby through the placenta, giving them enough protection against the condition.
According to studies, there is an 80 to 90 percent reduction in the risk of babies contracting whooping cough if their moms received the booster shot during pregnancy.
People who visit or are frequently around young babies should get whooping cough boosters, which should be done every 10 years. They have to wait for about two weeks for the vaccine to take effect.
However, Mrs. Hughes has learned that there is a shortage of the vaccine, so many people could not get them. She also advised adults to avoid going near babies when they are sick since the young bodies might not be able to handle the illness as much as the adults can.
The Hughes are happy to report that many women have reached out to them, saying that they had their booster after hearing about Riley. Even the Western Australia Department of Health reported an increase in the number of expectant mom receiving the immunization in June 2015 after Riley’s death. The WA Government also started offering a free whooping cough vaccination program for expectant women in their third trimester.