Vv is for – Vaccinations

Childhood diseases kill, injure and maim. Family Trees are peppered with gaps – young lives chopped off before having time to grow and blossom. In this Gould “Family History Through the Alphabet” challenge, I share personal experiences of the effect these, once common diseases, can have upon a family and the wonder of Vaccinations to reduce, and even eliminate, this scourge.

~~~~~~~~~

My first experience with the devastating effects of childhood diseases was during the 1950’s Polio Epidemic when one of my older brothers was struck down. He was completely paralysed, placed in an Iron Lung and went through many years of pain and agony which all of the family were a part of and which effected each of us in different ways.

The details of these childhood experiences are indelibly imprinted upon my brain, however, I never “blog” about living people so enough is said already… except to say that when Jonas Salk came up with the first Polio vaccine I was the first to line up, didn’t feel the prick of the needle, and was so glad that I was now protected. Not surprising then that on the birth of my first beautiful child, Cullen Andrew Habel, I followed his Vaccination Schedule to the letter.

Jarren Vaughan Habel, aged 6 weeks, with his mummy. (c) 2012. C.Crout-Habel

Then along came my adorable second son, Jarren Vaughan Habel, and before he was old enough to be vaccinated for anything… he was infected, at the tender age of 4weeks, with Measles. I was horrified. Rang my Doctor and he said,

 “Can’t be Measles… he’s too young… must be German Measles so don’t worry”. 

A few hours later I burst into his Surgery, with Jarren in my arms, for him to see the angry rash which covered every part of my babe’s tiny body, in his ears and in his mouth. He conceded it was indeed a serious case of Measles and prescribed Anti-biotics to prevent side effects.

Jarren Vaughan Habel, aged 6 weeks, with his big brother Cullen Andrew. (c) 2012. C.Crout-Habel

All was right with the world again. Jarren was such a delightful little fellow, caused no trouble at all and his big brother, Cullen Andrew, absolutely adored him… often turning down an invite to go play with the children next- door to just hang over the side of his brother’s bassinette to “play”.

The only difference was that I had to keep taking Jarren to the doctor because of consistent colds/ refusal to drink etc. Advice was … “it’s just a teething cold” and more Anti-biotics would be prescribed.

Well, on the morning of 16 Sep 1970, Jarren was late to wake. Steve had gone to work and initially I was grateful for that tiny break where I could just feed Cullen and then attend to Jarren. However… time began to pass, no sound came from his bedroom, my anxiety began to build and before fear could overtake me I chucked a piece of yummy chocolate into my mouth and went to wake my beautiful babe for his morning feed … and he was dead!!!

People wonder why chocolate is not a favourite of mine.

What a shock and what terror!!! … what did he die from? … was Cullen at risk too? … was it a spider bite? … what was IT?  Added to that was the suspicion, from the authorities, that maybe I had murdered my own baby!!! Well, eventually the report came through which showed that Jarren had died from complications from the Measles, contracted when only 4 weeks old. Those “teething colds” were actually symptoms of the severe damage to his lungs which Jarren had battled along with for 4 months. Seems it was only the constant stream of anti-biotics which kept him alive… until, finally they stopped being effective.

Jarren’s Grave – Midland Cemetery, Western Australia. (c) 2012. C.Crout-Habel.

Burying a beloved child is not something to be easily overcome. When you know the death was so easily preventable it seems, to me, to be even worse. You see, Jarren was infected by an 18 month old child who was old enough to have been immunised. He wasn’t … and my beautiful baby boy died as a result.

Anti-vaccination movements have always been with us.

Opposing Vaccinations is not a trendy new thing as some suppose. It’s been going on from the moment the first Vaccine, against Smallpox, was developed. To read about the History of Anti Vaccination Movements, just click HERE.

Smallpox has been wiped out, because vaccination was made compulsory. The prevalence of other diseases has been reduced because of Vaccinations. Here, in Australia, parents have the right to choose to not Vaccinate their children. That’s OK. I have NO prob with that. However, along with RIGHTS come RESPONSIBILITIES.

So, I reckon that if a parent chooses to not vaccinate their child and then a child, too young to be vaccinated, dies as a result then they need to face Court and defend themselves against a charge of Manslaughter. Simple as that!!!

42 years later I am still angry … and I make no apologies.

~~~~~~~~~  

 ©  Copyright. 2012. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel. 

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28 thoughts on “Vv is for – Vaccinations

    • Thanks my darling… as you know I finally had the courage to have another child and you were born 2 years – minus 2 days of Jarren’s birth … and then right on the Anniversary of his death you were struck down with the dreaded Measles. Remember screaming down the street with you and my wonderful Doctor taking me under her wing… insisting I take you to her every day to check the condition of your lungs. She was a mum too, of 6 children, understood where I was coming from and kept me sane. Love you too :-) xxx

    • Thankyou Kerryn … only hope it didn’t re-ignite the pain of you also burying a beloved child. Special thanks for allowing me to still be angry. Only 2 weeks, after the death of Jarren, I was told by a loved one to “Stop crying… he’s dead.. and your crying won’t bring him back”.

      • Now there’s sensitive for you (the relative)…I’m amazed they were still standing! Some people just don’t get it. I’d still be crying now 42 years later, as I know you are, and I’d still be angry with the doctor and the unsympathetic, unempathetic family members.. What empathetic support you got from Kirrily’s Dr and how totally terrified you must have been.

  1. Well done Sis, well writnen,..
    many tears fell as iI re read your story, I knew about it ,but when its in writing is so, so Heart renching..
    Lot,s Of Love My Dear Sister In Law.xx

    • Thanks Mary… as you would know Jarren has remained a part of mine and my children’s lives , and now my grandchildren. Has had a huge impact on all of us, just like my older brother’s polio did. Certainly gives all a greater appreciation of the gift of life, etc…
      Not surprising, I reckon, that I am now totally pissed off with members of my “birth family” who enjoy telling me to “get a grip” when I’m just expressing distress re: the death of another loved one. Not to mention being lectured that: “life is too short for……”. As if I need to be told!!!

  2. I would never have thought of Vaccination for the V challenge, but thank you for sharing with us your own dreadful personal experiences in such a powerful and moving way, Your emotions were expressed so beautifully. A very sad posting indeed.

    • Oh Sue, it was a very difficult post to write and is why it’s so late in getting written. I didn’t want to have a “pity party, so to speak, and wrote so many other “Vv is for-…” stories but eventually this is the one that needed to be written. If it stops even one child dying from this horrific & preventable disease … then I’m happy. Thanks for caring.

  3. Catherine I had read your earlier story about Jarren but this remains such a powerful story and plea for the importance of vaccination and the horror of a mother’s loss. I really feel for you in this tragedy especially knowing how hard Jarren struggled before his little body could take no more.

    Our eldest got terribly sick with measles despite being vaccinated and she was two at the time. Ironically the only one of our friends who didn’t vaccinate their child against measles was a doctor, because of the risks to their child. Will these illnesses return as people become cavalier about vaccination, never having seen the illnesses themselves? Lots of hugs from afar. Pauleen xx

    • Oh, yes Pauleen…I had no idea, at all, of the life and death struggle my darling Jarren was going through and never did he complain for a moment. So so glad that your precious child recovered and I understand that the Vaccination would have helped minimise the damage… but maybe I’m wrong?
      There has been a false scaremongering campaign going on, which has been proven to be fallacious, eg. Measles vaccination causes Autism has been proven to be absolute RUBBISH!!!
      What I’ve not yet mentioned is that the wife of my brother, who was struck down with Polio, had a younger brother who contracted Measles, sufferred complications which damaged his brain. So, their loved Jimmy lived on … but with a severely restricted life. Thanks for the hugs :-)

  4. Vaccinations is such a good topic for V … but I must say your story was not what I expected. You have delved deep and shared something so incredibly personal with us all, I can’t even imagine how you managed to get such a heart wrenching story typed. Thankyou … and hugs xxx

    • Thanks Alona. I kept coming up with heaps of alternative stories for Vv but eventually knew that this was the one that had to be written, couldn’t be avoided, so just kept pushing on through the tears. If it saves the life of just one little babe then Jarren’s life would not have been in vain, is what I reckon.

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    • Oh Sharon, I don’t want to cause anyone any pain … however, if telling my story saves just one tiny baby from a preventable death then Jarren & I are smiling. Thanks for caring.

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  8. I am furious about this now! Please do keep telling your story- the world needs to hear more stories like this so the madness of the anti-vaccination movement can be countered. What you have been through and what poor little Jarren suffered is heartbreaking beyond words. You are an amazing woman. And Jarren is an angel.

    • Thanks for the caring Marisa… Well I’m getting pretty old now and am counting on the young ones, like you, to pass on my stories. It’s rather like I’m now passing on/ recording the stories of my parents from those horrific years of the “Great Depression” which they survived.
      My beautiful Jarren walks by my side every day. He is so close that sometimes I feel I can touch him and from the moment he died he has always been my strength, enabling me to do whatever I’m meant to do … even when I feel I can’t go on any longer. Let him be your strength too whenever you may need it.
      Much xxx always, Auntie Catherine.

      • Thank you so much! He will be! You are a very strong and brave woman. I am so glad that you feel Jarren is with you all the time. That is beautiful! :) xxx

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