Warning: the following images might disturb some readers.
Devastating photos of 11-month-old Elijah Burke went viral when his mom posted them with an urgent warning for parents who choose not to vaccinate their children.
These horrifying pictures are every mother's worst nightmare. Elijah's mother, Kayley Burke, urged parents to vaccinate their children as soon as they were old enough to start immunizations.
Little Elijah suffered from horrific scabs and blisters from chicken pox, which then progressed to a secondary infection in his tiny body.
He was admitted to Ipswitch Hospital in Queensland where he was being treated. Kayley and her daughter, Kaliah (recently vaccinated) both caught chicken pox and were being treated for the disease
Kayley's own chicken pox had spread down her throat, making it very painful to swallow. When little Elijah stopped drinking, she knew something was seriously wrong.
"Adult chicken pox is so horrible and painful I would much rather give birth with no pain relief," she wrote. But watching her baby suffer from the pain and itchiness was too much, "'It's horrible I can't think of anything worse," she said.
She encouraged other parents to vaccinate their children as soon as they were able to, "Bottom line, if you don't vaccinate your kids you're a bloody idiot. Think about the risk you are putting on other helpless kids that are too young or who actually can't be vaccinated."
Since she posted them, her photos and message were shared more than 46,000 times.
Some parents feel that giving young children so many vaccines at once overwhelms their immune systems and that the potential side effects of vaccinating could be more harmful than the disease itself. Others argue that we shouldn't be vaccinating against diseases that aren't currently at large in their country.
It is recommended that infants in Australia receive their varicella (chickenpox) vaccine at 18 months old. A second vaccine is recommended when the child is 10 to 15 years old.
In the United States, children as young as 12 months can receive the chickenpox vaccine, a second dose is typically delivered at the ages of 4 through 6 years old.
If you want to read more about these concerns and the science behind the debate, you can read more here.
Do you think she was right to share these photos of her suffering son? Should we vaccinate our children this young? Let us know in the comments below!