The first time Aidan’s story came out was in 2011. At the time, Safinaz, Aidan’s mother, told us about the harrowing tale of how her son battled to escape the fatal clutches of pneumococcal disease.
Even after 3 years since the scare, the memories of Aidan’s ordeal continue to linger. “I remember the whole thing like it was yesterday, as a parent you can’t help but feel traumatized,” expressed Safinaz while giving Aidan a little kiss to the cheek. Her feelings weren’t at all misplaced; Aidan was just six-months-old when he was first diagnosed with severe pneumonia. Recently, Positive Parenting went back to visit Aidan and his family.
Naturally, we didn’t really think there was much to worry about.
Three weeks in, a few doses of antibiotics later, Aidan was still sick. So, we decided to go see a paediatrician. There, Aidan’s X-Ray results confirmed that he was indeed suffering from severe pneumonia. It also showed there was fluid in his left chest. The fluid had to be drained out with a tube when he was in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) ward.
It’s a fact!
Pneumonia is the 5th highest cause of death in Malaysian children, under the age of five years.
PP: Could you give us a little back story of what actually happened?
Safinaz: Well, it all started with what I had initially thought to be a typical cold. Aidan had all the symptoms of it; fever, cough, flu, the works. My husband and I had four children before Aidan.
PP: How did his illness affect the family’s life during admission?
Safinaz: When Aidan was admitted to the hospital, I had to take leave from work for a little over a month. My husband and I had to take turns looking after him at the ward and we had to send all our other children to live with their grandparents for a while. There was also the constant state of being scared, depressed, helpless, and worried, all bundled up into one horrible feeling. Basically, life was not the same and I wouldn’t want to go through something like that again.
PP: How has Aidan’s condition improved since then?
Safinaz: For a while Aidan was unresponsive. He gradually showed improvement but it was like starting back from square one. For example, before, Aidan almost mastered climbing but afterwards he could only crawl and we had to teach him all over again. Today he’s quite a handful, lively and very talkative, thankfully so.
PP: PCV isn’t a compulsory vaccine. Did this affect your decision not to take it for Aidan in the first place?
Safinaz: There is that, but I think more significantly is the fact that I was mistakenly overconfident over the protective power of my breast milk and the amount of experience I had as a mother of 5 beautiful children. It blinded me to the fact that diseases/infections are unpredictable. Anyone can be affected at any time regardless of whether they have been exclusively breastfeeding 1 child or ten. Vaccination is still the best way to protect your child against this pervasive disease. I certainly do not want any other child or parent to suffer like Aidan did!
PP: What do you say to parents who refuse to get their child vaccinated?
Safinaz: Firstly, I believe it is a choice people make for their children based on what they think is right. As a mother, I understand and respect that. However, I also believe that we cannot ignore scientifically proven consensus that vaccination is the most effective tool against pneumococcal infections to date.
PP: What other advice do you have to give to parents out there?
Safinaz: Without a doubt, vaccinate your children! It may save your child’s life and provide you with peace of mind. Understandably for some families, getting a shot may prove to be too costly. But the financial and emotional costs of treating this disease are much worse.
Furthermore, there’s this overwhelming mentality amongst us that if something is not compulsory than it probably isn’t that serious and should just be disregarded. What’s worse is that we’ve been conditioned to think that bad things – especially serious and potentially fatal diseases – will never happen to us because we are somehow “immune”. I think this is a dangerous mindset many of us parents have, one I fervently believe we should all change for the sake of our children.
What is it?
PCV is a safe & effective vaccine that protects infants and young children against pneumococcal disease.