I’m going to get my Tdap booster shot and you should join me

There’s a kid I know — she’s 14. She should be starting 9th grade. She’s an artist, and a dancer, and she loves to swim, and she has these beautiful, laughing eyes, and now she’s really sick.

She has Whooping Cough/Pertussis/שעלת/Sha’elet — it’s one of those things where she’ll be sitting on the grass and reading Harry Potter, and BAM, she’s doubled over, face the color of a fish’s belly, her mouth open, eyes wide but unseeing, her lungs empty, as she tries to suck in air.

Yeah, it’s terrifying. It hurts to see — and damn right it hurts a lot more to actually be this beautiful young girl with several weeks of her life spent waiting for the next coughing fit…wondering if she’ll ever breathe again.

The thing is, you can vaccinate against this. And while you can still get sick even with the vaccine, the disease is much less ferocious if you have it.

And she wasn’t vaccinated. And now she’s really sick.

Her parents made a choice when she was a baby not to give her the DTaP series — a life-saving vaccine against Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis — a vaccine that ISN’T controversial, that has a proven track record, that SAVES lives.

So: She wasn’t vaccinated. And now she’s really sick.

But it isn’t just her. There are babies — beautiful, sweet little babies who are too young to be vaccinated — who are still out in the world and exposed to the air we all breathe — beautiful sweet, little babies who NEED all of us to be vaccinated until they can be, too. It’s also people of all ages who need the vaccine, but can’t get it because they’re immunocompromised, or are allergic to the vaccine and CANNOT take it — not because they are opting out, but because they CAN’T.

Look: There is no vaccine against fear — and I know that parents who choose not to vaccinate their kids love their children deeply, and are afraid — and they figure they’ll play the odds and count on the assumption that everyone else is vaccinated.

Problem is, too many parents are banking on this, and herd protection doesn’t work anymore. These diseases are still around. And these diseases still kill.

Which leads me to another point: The protection from vaccines does not last forever. We need booster shots. And yes, these horrible diseases — these PREVENTABLE diseases — are still around in the air we breathe, in our cafes, and schools, and parks, and homes, and all of us — ALL OF US — should look at our medical records with our doctors to make sure we are protected and able to protect others.

So, I’m going to get my Tdap booster shot. Join me, please.

Because choosing to vaccinate or not vaccinate isn’t just a personal choice. We all share the same sky and we need to take care of one another.

About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer, Times of Israel's New Media editor, lives in Israel with her two kids in a village next to rolling fields. Sarah likes taking pictures, climbing roofs, and talking to strangers. She is the author of the book Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered. Sarah is a work in progress.