WATCH: Victoria mom’s poignant plea on dangers of not vaccinating goes viral as concern grows over shocking number of B.C. children not vaccinated. Tess van Straaten reports.
The pictures are heartbreaking — a tiny little baby hooked up to tubes, fighting for its life in the intensive care unit at Victoria General Hospital.
“You’re watching your child be near death and occasionally not survive,” says Dr. Jeff Bishop. “I can’t imagine anything worse as a parent.”
Dr. Bishop is treating baby Isabelle, the 10-week-old baby pictured in photos that quickly went viral.
“The kids that I’m seeing, they shouldn’t be here,” Dr. Bishop says. “These are diseases that we should have eliminated in Canada. These are diseases we had eliminated for awhile that are now coming back.”
That’s why baby Isabelle’s mom made this emotional Facebook post, saying the pictures of her baby hooked up to tubes are proof that not vaccinating your children harms those who aren’t old enough to get their shots.
“What you do with your kids is your choice, but do not tell me that not vaccinating your kids isn’t hurting anyone,” Annie Mae Braiden wrote.
Whopping cough’s highly contagious and spreads easily to anyone who isn’t vaccinated.
Shocking number of B.C. kids not vaccinated
But an alarming number of children aren’t vaccinated in B.C.
Province-wide, only 70 per cent of two-year-olds are up to date on their shots.
The rate for Southern Vancouver Island (south of the Malahat) is 74 per cent.
It drops to just 64 per cent for the Central Island (Cowichan Valley to Parksville) and 70 per cent on the North Island (Cowichan Valley to Port Hardy).
By age seven, only 63 per cent of B.C. kids are vaccinated and on Central Vancouver Island, just 60 per cent of kids are protected.
“It’s been something we’ve been concerned about for many years as we’ve seen this decline in immunization coverage,” Dr. Dee Hoyano of Island Health explains. “The targets nationally and internationally are to get childhood immunization rates to 95 per cent or greater and it can be done. Some countries have reached that but we’re not close.”
Calling it a life or death issue, Dr Bishop just hopes the awareness raised by the photos will help parents realize the risk of not getting their kids vaccinated.
“As a pediatrician and as a parent, this is really concerning,” Dr. Bishop says. “Vaccinations are an easy way to prevent significant disease and mortality and it’s just not happening so that’s really hard to watch.”
As for baby Isabelle, she’ll likely be in hospital for another two months.