Whooping Cough Vaccine Under The Microscope As Disease Outbreak Hits 60-Year High

Under California law, kids have been required to be immunized against pertussis -- otherwise known as whooping cough.

Despite recent vaccination mandates across California schools, in 2012, cases of whooping cough in the U.S. reached their highest levels in more than 60 years, health officials say.

According to a report out Friday from The Associated Press, “about 42,000 cases were reported last year, the most since 1955. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still gathering information, and the number could rise to as much as 50,000.”

In California, the most recent numbers from the state’s department of public health show that from Jan. 1, 2012 through April 24, 2012, 169 cases of whooping cough, otherwise known as pertussis, had been reported statewide, with 20 cases reported in Riverside County during that time.

Although the risk of dying from whooping cough is low – nationally, 18 reportedly perished last year from the disease – some health officials are concerned about vaccine efficacy.

A November 2012 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that California kids who had been fully vaccinated were less likely to catch whooping cough, but the report also noted that the more time that had passed since children completed the initial recommended immunization regimen -- three doses of the DTaP vaccine (against diptheria, tetanus, and pertussis) at 2, 4 and 6 months, followed by booster shots at 15-18 months and 4-6 years -- the more likely they were to get whooping cough.

The JAMA report finds that the efficacy of the pertussis regimen fell from 98.1 percent within a year of finishing it to 71.2 percent five or more years later, according to estimates by the researchers from the CDC and the California Department of Public Health.

Despite the efficacy decline, an editorial in the JAMA issue still advises a “suboptimal” whooping cough vaccine is still warranted.

The report is in sync with a Kaiser Permanente study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in September.

As a result, California students entering or advancing to grades seven through 12 during the 2011–12 school year were required to be immunized with a pertussis vaccine booster. In July 2012, AB 354 required only students who were entering or advancing into grade seven to 12 show proof of a pertussis booster vaccine (on or after the seventh birthday).

The California Department of Public Health recommends the booster for all people 10 years of age and older.

During a July 2012 telebriefing hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health officials discussed a pertussis epidemic in Washington State, which has seen its highest rates of whooping cough in infants younger than one year of age. 

“About half of these cases are babies under three months of age. That's because those very young babies are too young to be protected by vaccines that they start getting at two months of age.  Their protection instead depends on the immunity of the people around them, especially pregnant women, their mothers.  That is why we strongly urge pregnant women and all who will be around babies to be vaccinated. Infants often get pertussis from a family member or household member,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, director for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, said during the telebriefing.

She went on to address adolescents.

“We’re also seeing high rates in older children as well. … We realize that by age 10, immunity can wane from the early-childhood vaccines that kids get. That is why we ended up recommending a booster of pertussis-containing vaccine at 11-to-12 years of age. 

“Pertussis vaccine remains the single most effective approach to prevent infection,” Dr. Schuchat continued. “It is critical to protect infants and others at high risk. I want to stress that unvaccinated children are at eight times higher risk of getting pertussis compared to children fully vaccinated.” 

The good news? Some experts say whooping cough tends to run in multi-year cycles, and many believe 2012 appears to have been a peak.

Mike the Great January 05, 2013 at 04:06 PM
Pretty much has this disease eradicated until the influx of people never vacinated. Just love Liberal Laws.
Mike the Great January 05, 2013 at 04:10 PM
Mimi January 05, 2013 at 04:11 PM
But if everyone else was vaccinated, then why are you worried about the ones who didn't vaccinate?
Pickles January 05, 2013 at 04:58 PM
People are crazy not to get vaccinated. I don't understand
Courtney Boltauzer Holton January 05, 2013 at 05:47 PM
Hey pickles, spend one day in my shoes and you wouldn't make uneducated comments like that. :(
Courtney Boltauzer Holton January 05, 2013 at 05:49 PM
Be careful people, there are families , like mine , that watched their children change after getting shots. They do effect some children. They do hurt some kids. Not everyone. But some. So don't be so flippant about it.
Dorothy January 05, 2013 at 07:07 PM
I really don't think there is anything wrong with the vaccine.. it's all the idiots that have chosen not to have their kids vaccinated that is the problem..
Anne January 05, 2013 at 07:08 PM
As long as there is a good percentage of non-vaccinated people we will always have the disease. I respect that some people choose not to have it but we shouldn't be surprised by these stats.
Rebecca Hyden January 05, 2013 at 07:11 PM
Apparently most haven't realized that this article says the vaccine is failing in one paragraph and then continues to say that vaccination is still the best thing lmao.... Which is it?? The vaccine is failing or its working? Because the upsurge of Pertussis among the FULLY vaccinated has RISEN DRASTICALLY!!!
Rebecca Hyden January 05, 2013 at 07:15 PM
ALL of my kids have had Whooping cough 3 of the 5 ARE Fully vaccinated and still got it. I myself was fully vaccinated and caught it THREE times.... Doctor said its because we don't develop immunity from Pertussis from ONE bout with the illness, it may take several bouts of the actual illness to build up the lifelong immunity that last 30 yrs. The vaccine is NOT designed to prevent or stop transmission of pertussis. It IS designed to suppress symptoms. Suppressing symptoms is a GOOD thing... but the down side is that you now have a bunch of vaccinated individuals walking around with suppressed symptoms STILL able to spread pertussis around, only they don't KNOW they are spreading because they don't know they even have it due to a lack of symptoms....
Aurora Wray January 05, 2013 at 07:16 PM
Most of us "idiots" have done our research and appreciate the fact that 1) the vaccine is obviously not working, 2) it's full of poison, 3) whooping cough, while is treatable and rarely deadly and once you have it, you have immunity for life, not just until you need the next booster shot. Have you had your booster, Dorothy?
Rebecca Hyden January 05, 2013 at 07:17 PM
Apparently most haven't realized that this article says the vaccine is failing in one paragraph and then continues to say that vaccination is still the best thing lmao.... Which is it?? The vaccine is failing or its working? Because the upsurge of Pertussis among the FULLY vaccinated has RISEN DRASTICALLY!!! SOOO How can a vaccine provide what the actual illness cannot?? They can duplicate things that natural immunity can't??
Lizzie January 05, 2013 at 07:17 PM
I've got news for you Mike - this disease will never be eradicated because the vaccine does not prevent one from getting it. Check out the recent statistics that show 80% of kids getting whooping cough are completely up to date on their shots. The vaccine may shorten the duration of the disease, and you may present with an "easier" case of it, but there never has been a way to "prevent" this disease. That's why it's still around. It has nothing to do with people choosing not to get the vaccine.
Jenifer S January 05, 2013 at 10:12 PM
I recommend reading 'Vaccine Illusion' written by a PhD immunologist who studies at Harvard and Standford. Dr Tetyana Obukhanych. The pertussis vaccine available in the combo shot DTaP and TDaP specifically contains the acellular version. Not the whole cellular version pulled in 1997 due to adverse reactions. She cites a pubmeds article showing laboratory results indicate the acellular version is only targeting one strain while creating susceptibility to the strain circulating. Don't believe me - ? Then read her book. And NO I don't profit any from this. Just trying to ask people to EDUCATE BEFORE YOU VACCINATE.
Mike the Great January 06, 2013 at 04:25 AM
Lizzie, you have it backwards. It is approx:80% effective if vaccinated.
Pat Copeland January 07, 2013 at 05:30 PM
Was born n the 50s so had all my vaccines. But had the whooping cough vaccine 2 years when do I need the vaccine again
Carl Petersen III January 07, 2013 at 06:02 PM
Mike the Great 8:06 am on Saturday, January 5, 2013 "Just love Liberal Laws." . . Did the Liberals give amnesty to Whooping Cough when I wasn't looking?
Person of Science January 11, 2013 at 08:38 PM
No medicine is without some risk. The question is ”what is the risk to benefit ratio of taking a particular medicine?”. Vaccines are extremely safe and very effective which makes the risk to benefit ratio very small which is very good. Regarding “poisons” in vaccines, are you talking about thimerosal and mercury? Thimerosal is a preservative and is used in multi dose vials of vaccines which are less expensive than single dose vials. What about thimerosal? It contains a very very small portion of ethyl mercury. The amount of ethyl mercury in all childhood vaccines combined (exposure for one child over their childhood) is similar to the total mercury a child would receive if he/she breast feeds and the exposure is less than baby formula. Ethyl mercury is very non-bioavailable and very very little is absorbed and retained by the human body. Next, what about the research on thimerosal? There are hundreds of studies, randomized, double blind, placebo controlled, large sample size trials (level 1 evidence) looking at vaccine safety in both thimerosal and non-thimerosal vaccines. There is absolutely no increase risk of autism or neurotoxicity. There are dozens of extremely large (n=>100,000) epidemiologic studies conducted world wide examining the risks of vaccines. They compare thimerosal to non-thimerosal vaccines, they compare single vaccines to two and more vaccines, etc. There is NO evidence of an increase in autism or neurotoxicity.


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