MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota mother is pushing all parents to vaccinate their kids after a case of whooping cough put her baby in intensive care for nearly a month.

“This didn’t have to happen and we’re so, so fortunate that we have a happy ending but it could have been so much worse,” said Emily Stevenson.

Her baby, Everlee, is four months old now. Even this early on, she’s already found her voice. Those who know her are sure she’s making up for lost time.

“It was awful. It was awful,” Emily said.

A few weeks before Thanksgiving, a note came home from their 9-year-old daughter’s class. The Stevenson family was told a child in her class had pertussis, or whooping cough.

Meanwhile, Everlee seemed to have a cold.

“I just had this horrible feeling that, ‘could this really be pertussis?'” Emily remembered.

Emily’s fears were confirmed at the hospital. For more than three weeks, her 5-week-old baby struggled to breathe, hooked up to oxygen and a feeding tube in the ICU. Her heart rate often dropped from 150 to 15 beats per minute.

Doctors told Emily the disease is so contagious her daughter likely brought home the bacteria on her clothes. This happened just weeks before Everlee would have been given the vaccine.

While Dr. Mark Schleiss did not treat Everlee’s whooping cough case, he is troubled by the growing trend of parents who choose not to vaccinate.

“Vaccine refusal has led, unfortunately, to a lot of severe illness and even death in children,” Schleiss said.

State data analyzed by the Associated Press in November reported 6.5 percent of Minnesota families opted out of shots before kindergarten. Many people blame personal reasons.

“I think our role is to make sure families have knowledge of the truth of the real information. Not only about the safety of vaccines, but the severity of the diseases that we’re trying to prevent,” Schleiss said.

The Stevenson family knows how serious it can be. Emily is on a mission to tell anyone who will listen, and if Everlee could talk she’s sure she’d say the same thing.

“I just want to tell every parent to have their kids vaccinated. This didn’t have to happen,” Emily said.

Doctors say whooping cough can sometimes attack children who haven’t received the recommended dose of the vaccine. Kids should get five doses by the time their six. The shot can be given all the way through age 65.

Liz Collin

Comments (33)
  1. A mom says:

    I have a son, who at the age of 10, got whooping cough. It is a terrible terrible illness. It put my son out of school for 3 months. Not because they wouldn’t allow him to go…..but because he couldn’t even walk across the floor without having a couging attack. In a 10 year old the severe coughing attacks come on and won’t usually stop until the child has vomitted. Once the cough had stopped just a couple of steps towards the bed would send him into another coughing attack. The treatment for him was massive amounts of sterioids…..for almost a year. Trying to get a child off of steriods due to whooping cough comes with other ramifications. The pneumonia would set in and the steroids would have to be increased again. My son is 22 years old and still to this day when he gets a cold it sets in his lungs. Please please please make sure your children are vaccinated. My son was once but due to an alergic reaction to pertussin it was not given to him after his first dose. I promise you, this is not something you want to watch your children go thru.

  2. Brandy Solis says:

    My now 7th month old son suffers from many breathing issues.. most of which stem from his Pertussis /whooping cough he got at 5 weeks old. We too almost lost our baby. Thanks be to God we too had a happy ending. Not many families do. Getting vaccinated not only safe guards your child, but other babies too. DO IT!

    1. Lucifer says:

      ….bet you get government insurance…so no, thanks to me, not God

      1. Number 2 says:

        I don’t get this…what makes you assume that she gets government insurance?

  3. Andrew says:

    With the chiropractic and acupuncture support the other day as well as positive stories about overseas stem cell scam artists and local ghost-hunters, I’m surprised WCCO didn’t say that vaccines cause autism.

  4. MCE says:

    Come on Wcco…get the grammar right….in the second to last sentence….they’re….they are, right? not their!!!!

    1. Willow says:

      Actually, “their” is correct in this usage. Please go back to school before commenting in this manner.


      1. LynneB says:

        No, it really, really isn’t. The sentence as it stands is :
        “Kids should get five doses by the time their six.”

        What the sentence SHOULD be:
        “Kids should get five doses by the time THEY ARE six.”
        — therefore, “Kids should get five doses by the time THEY’RE six.”

        Read your own advice.

  5. KYnative says:

    My son had whooping cough when he was 3 months old. He wasn’t diagnosed unitl it was about over. I chose not to vaccinate because of the issues I personally suffered from my vaccinations. It was an educated decision made with facts and experiences. I am the one who is responsible for that decision. My daughter also got whooping cough at the same time (5 years old). I had gotten rid of my vaccination immunity so I got it too. Either decision to vaccinate or to not has risks. That needs to weighed by the parents not society. If you vaccinate your child, my decision not to vaccinate does not effect you since that is what your shots are supposed to be for, protection. We live with the consequences from our choices from our decisions. My son and daughter are healthy. I won’t kid you, it was a difficult few months but I am not sorry for my decision knowing the risks for vaccinations. I still have effects from my childhood vaccinations. I did not want to risk those with my kids. People keep in mind, we are the parents, we need to be the ones making the decisions we think are best. NOT the village! My heart goes out to this mother (and the other ones who have posted as well) as I understand her pain. But be aware that the DPT is very dangerous too. Every choice has a consequence.

    1. tan pup says:

      The H__ it doesn’t. You selfish piece of work. Your decision could have killed someone else’s child! Glad you got over it, glad your children are OK, but who did you expose and harm? You may not think you harmed anyone because you are not around those you exposed. You are a part of the village – it’s called humanity – and you contributed to it one way or another. Your decision is based on fear and association without sound medical proof. It amazes me that you think you are an expert, yet I highly doubt you have had one day of medical education – compared to the 4/6/10 years of med schools, experts, scientists and researchers. Did you EVER hear about people who are carriers and never get sick? Read the FACTS about the woman who was coined Typhoid Mary. Just because you feel OK now, you may still be spreading the disease! Just because you are a parent – does not automatically make you an EXPERT!

    2. Sarah says:

      The problem with your mentality is that it puts children who are too young to receive the vaccines at risk. If you want to risk your child’s life by all means go right ahead. But your choice has a bigger impact that your narrow minds leads you to believe.

    3. Ding Ding says:

      What about the little babies that are TOO YOUNG to get the vaccine?? That is exactly what this story is about. That is the type of person that you are putting at risk by choosing not to vaccinate your child.

    4. LynneB says:

      DPT is less than 1/100,000th as dangerous as the diseases it protects against, even under absolute worst-case scenarios of adverse reactions, and whether or not you are aware of them, vaccine tracking programs have existed for decades to ensure exactly that. And handwashing has never protected anyone against tetanus, or polio, or whooping cough, or measles, or any of those.

  6. tan pup says:

    Not just Somalian population; it’s all these young “Christians”. In the community where I live, there is a huge population of “anti vaccination” (all white) and feel “god” will protect them. I’m not anti-religion; this is a fact with these young people. I asked one what would they do if their child died; there response – “it’s God’s will”. I have a problem with that . . . Needs to be some lawsuits against those who don’t vaccinate and others get sick. Just like the people who have been prosecuted due to “knowingly” spreading the Aids virus. No difference here.

  7. Anita Newhouse says:

    The fact that data regarding vaccine injuries and how/when they are reported is difficult to find, is as much a part of vaccine public policy as the concept of ‘herd immunity’. Until ALL of the pertinent information about vaccines is provided to parents-not just the Public Health campaign spin-I fully support parents declining vaccines for their children. I will NOT put my children’s welfare up against pharma profits (they will always have more lawyers) and the “average norm/ cookie cutter” approach of public health policy in this country. Parents are legally bound to advocate for their children and as educated as we have become in this day and age, we deserve more (and real) information about choices we are asked to make on our children’s behalf. There do exist other ways to keep one’s family healthy (exclusion, hand washing, education, lifestyle, etc.) that are as much a choice as vaccines, but many parents would rather get the shots, and that is their choice.

    1. tan pup says:

      Read my reply above; same goes to you. . . . Your choice should not mean the death of my or anyone elses child, mother, faher, sister or brother.

    2. Chad says:

      Yeah, Big Pharma, 9/11, JFK!! They’re all after us. Dig a whole and hide! Take some vitamins and herbs! (most of which produced by Big Pharma or some other large coroporation with financial interests).

    3. Jason says:

      If that is the choice you choose then you should keep your un-vaccinated children out of public schools where they can affect other families with infants too young to be vaccinated as was the case in this story. Also, keep your whole family away from other public places such grocery stores, restaurants, and libraries. Pertussis is one of the most spreadable illnesses and can be transferred on nearly any surface.You may have the right to choose not to vaccinate, but you don’t have the right to put others in danger. Its common sense and common courtesy.

  8. Marc Twain says:

    VacciNation is a “good” idea, but DANGEROUS in application. Todays vaccines are a Medical Assault on the Immune system. IF you can READ the ingredient list and you make an Informed Decision, you would NOT inject your precious baby with these toxic agents of disease. Not one vaccine has been proven safe or effective.
    In fact, vaccines are associated with a long list of diseases including CANCER9S) , DIABETES, etc. because they ATTACK the babies immune system. YOU TUBE: DR. CARLEY

    1. Sam says:

      Mr. Twin, I think there’s something wrong with your caps lock key.

      Yep, there’s some dangerous stuff in vaccines. Of course, they make heart medicine out of digitalis, one of the more dangerous substances on the planet. And if you’re able to rationally think, you would understand that it’s important to weigh the risk of small doses of moderately toxic materials versus the very real potential of an extremely dangerous illness. What’s worse? Getting injected with a minuscule amount of mercury, or losing the function of one’s legs to polio? Would you prefer to have a dose of formaldehyde so small that it causes no symptoms in most people, or a case of smallpox, which can easily be fatal?

      1. LynneB says:

        Actually, the amount of formaldehyde in these shots is smaller than the amount of formaldehyde produced by the body’s own cells in a day; it is one of the natural by-products of our metabolism, and is dangerous only when encountered in industrial quantities over long periods of time. Which just goes to point up how appallingly ignorant of medicine and biology a lot of anti-vaccinationists actually are.

        Vaccines “attack” immune systems? Please. Diseases attack immune systems. Vaccines *use* immune systems. And I’ll bet this individual has never been able to parse a single one of the many studies available in PubMed which details how vaccines have been tested for safety and efficacy.

        “Oooooo sounds SCARY” is not a good reason to shun one of the most successful medical interventions ever invented, especially when the “scary” designation is based on not understanding what is going on.

  9. Barb Altman Cline says:

    Parents who do not vaccinate their children should be forced to home school them. That is not just to protect others from them, but them from the other too.

    Reading the ingredients is never a good idea, unless you have allergies, but time has proven that vaccination does work, and the diseases are much more dangerous. Possiably you should try reading up on the diseases too, so your decision is truely based on fact not fear.

  10. Tom Hoffmann says:

    I’m 78 years old and I had whooping cough when I was 6 months old. Treatment wasn’t as good as today. My father trimmed his fingers to the quick to clear the mucus from my throat (I’ve been told.) I just want this child’s mother to not despair, her child can survive and lead a healthy life.

  11. Kathryn says:

    This boggles my mind. How on earth are you so negligent to allow your baby to get such a serious disease? What do you roll it in?
    Don’t you people know that you’re supposed to keep babies at home for at least the first six weeks, and later take them out only when necessary?
    This is what happens when you have to take your kid everywhere and insist on displaying it like trophy.

    1. Jason says:

      Did you even read the story. It came home with their older daughter from school, due to some germ infested kid in her class courtesy of some irresponsible parents that didn’t keep their un-vaccinated kid home when they should have. I happen to know the family in the story and they never even left their house with the baby until they had to bring her to the hospital thanks to these inconsiderate and selfish people. Maybe you should stop making ignorant assumptions and learn the facts before you pass judgement.

  12. Educated says:

    “(Whooping cough infections) are common in an immunised population.” -Journal of the American
    Medical Association, 1998.
    The death rate for unvaccinated children is about half that of the
    vaccinated. …..Schwedische Studie an Waldorfschulen: Results Unvaccinated kids
    have a lower risk of allergies..[May 2005 Germany] Who is healthier, the vaccinated or the

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