‘I put them at risk’: Anti-vax mum changes mind after all kids fall ill

A big believer in anti-vaccination research has changed her tune after all three of her children were stricken with a serious illness.

Kristen O'Meara chose not to vaccinate her young daughters but after the children were hit with a case of rotavirus, which causes acute stomach distress, her views have been turned on their head.

“It was awful, and it didn't have to happen, because I could have had them vaccinated," O'Meara told ABC News. "I felt guilty. I felt really guilty."

The teacher, who lives just outside Chicago in the US, claimed that she had "scoured everything" about why vaccines might be harmful and had become "pretty convinced."

Kristen O'Meara and her three young daughters. Image: ABC News.
Kristen O'Meara and her three young daughters. Image: ABC News.

The personal research was enough to convince O'Meara that she should not vaccinate her children, but she admits that she had only read material that casts doubt on vaccinations.

“I put my kids at risk,” she said. "I wish that I had taken more time to research from both sides before my children were born."

Her three children — all under the age of seven — have now been bought up-to-date on the recommended shots and are fully vaccinated.

All three of O'Meara's children were stricken with rotavirus. Image: ABC News.
All three of O'Meara's children were stricken with rotavirus. Image: ABC News.

The Immunise Australia Program states that there are two reasons for immunising every child in Australia.

Firstly, immunisation is "the safest and most effective way of providing protection against disease". After immunisation, a child is far less likely to catch a disease if there are cases in the community and if it is caught, they are likely to only have mild symptoms.

Secondly, if enough people in the community are immunised, the infection can no longer be spread from person to person. This is how smallpox was eliminated from the world and polio has disappeared from many countries.

O'Meara is speaking out now so that other children are not harmed. Image: ABC News.
O'Meara is speaking out now so that other children are not harmed. Image: ABC News.

After her frightening wake-up call, O'Meara is encouraging others to vaccinate their children.

"I'm here because I wanted to share my personal story ... and if it does help someone change their mind, then that's great," she added.

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