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.

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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.

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 ©  Copyright. 2012. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel. 

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Happy Birthday Jarren…

 Remembering Jarren Vaughan Habel

A Birthday Memorium for my beautiful baby boy Jarren Vaughan Habel.

Jarren Vaughan Habel, 3 days old

Born 13 Apr 1970 at Midland Hospital, Midland, Western Australia. Much loved second child of Catherine Ann (Crout) Habel and Stephen Louis Andrew Habel and adored by his big brother, Cullen Andrew. 

At the age of 6 weeks, Jarren contracted “measles“, passed on by the un-vaccinated child of one of his father’s work colleagues. Anti-biotics were administered immediately and he was soon back to his old self. However,

Jarren Vaughan & Cullen Andrew Habel - May 1970

within a week, or so, he developed a persistent “cold” which the doctor diagnosed as a “teething cold”. The doctor kept prescribing anti-biotics and one morning I was shocked to find Jarren dead in his cot.  As the cause of death was unknown an autopsy was held which showed my beautiful baby boy died of  “complications” from the measles. One entire lung had been destroyed and he had lived for all those months on ony half a lung.  We were told that it was only the anti-biotics which kept him alive and that, even if his persistent colds had been correctly diagnosed, he would have died anyway. Cold comfort indeed.

Jarren died at home, 16 Caladenia Way, Koongamia, Western Australia on 16 Sep 1970 at the age of 5 months and 3 days. His father had left for work and only his 3 year old brother, and I, were home.  Jarren seemed to be sleeping very late and as the time passed I began getting rather nervous so popped a piece of chocolate into my mouth to give some courage. Some wondered why I suddenly didn’t like the taste of chocolate any more.

Jarren was buried in a tiny little white coffin, decorated with golden angels, at Midland Cemetery, Midland, Western Australia.  All the way to the cemetery I kept looking for the hearse and was horrified when the “boot” of the car we were travelling in was opened and there he was.  Yes, the inside of the “boot” was decorated with velvet etc., but I was still horrified.

It rained continuously the morning of Jarren’s funeral and  the wildflowers,

Jarren, six weeks old, with mummy

lining the narrow country road, glistened with raindrops as though the world was crying with me as we drew closer and closer to the burial ground and the moment of final separation from my beautiful baby boy.  They lowered his tiny body in the tiny white coffin into the tiny hole in the ground and, consumed with grief, I turned my eyes to the heavens, the rain stopped, the clouds parted and the sun shone through with a blinding intensity that was other worldly – my life changed forever.

It’s been said that the death of a beloved child brings to the parents a pain which is indescribable.  It has been so for me.

My only consolation is to tell Jarren’s story and urge all who hear it to pass on the message that a parent choosing not to vaccinate against so-called “childhood illnesses” put the lives of the very young, who are unable to be vaccinated, at great risk.

May you always RIP, my darling.

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© Copyright 2012. Catherine Crout-Habel. Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family