Kristen O’Meara got an ugly wake up call recently when not only she and her husband contracted rotavirus, but so did her three daughters.
After doing some research prior to the births of her three children, the Chicago mom considered herself a devout anti-vaccinator.
“I scoured everything I could possibly find about why vaccines might be harmful. I became pretty convinced,” she said in an interview with Good Morning America. But after her entire family contracted a nasty virus that could have been prevented, it didn’t take long for her to change her tune.
“I put my kids at risk.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rotavirus is “a contagious virus that can cause gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines).” Common symptoms include severe diarrhea, vomiting, fever and abdominal pain.
“Infants and young children are most likely to get rotavirus disease. They can become severely dehydrated and need to be hospitalized and can even die.”
O’Meara now admits to feeling guilty for not getting the kids vaccinated when they were born.
“It was awful, and it didn’t have to happen, because I could have had them vaccinated,” she tells ABC News. “I wish that I had taken more time to research from both sides before my children were born.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, one of the most common reasons parents choose not to vaccinate their kids is because they feel that the vaccination in question is not necessary. Additionally, many have linked common vaccines to autism. But O’Meara simply hopes her story will encourage people to reconsider their position.
“I’m here because I wanted to share my personal story … and if it does help someone change their mind, then that’s great,” O’Meara says.