Lax vaccination requirements = more pertussis

Orac has an excellent post discussing the rise in pertussis ("whooping cough") in many areas, and its correlation with easier exemption from mandatory vaccination (using a "personal belief" exemption in addition to a religious exemption, for example). I've written about pertussis previously, and a problem is that the vaccine effectiveness quickly wanes, so that adults frequently lack significant immunity. While we rarely get sick, we can be carriers of the bacterium and infect children around us. As such, new recommendations suggest that adults also should get a pertussis booster. I worry that it's only going to get worse in areas where there's so much anti-vaccine sentiment; kids not being vaccinated, parents with waning immunity spreading the bacterium, and an ever-growing incidence of disease due to Bordatella pertussis. Yes, it's just another one of those "pesky childhood diseases," but like mumps, measles, and chickenpox, people often forget the scourge it once was--and has the potential to be in the future.

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Of course, little babies gasping for air is nothing more than a "healing crisis" and strengthining of the immune system for later in life. How dare the evil pharmgovernmentmedico-establishment deny parents the right to give their babies the precious gift of hospitalization and possible death? After all, the vaccine has a .00001 percent risk of serious sequalae.

By anonimouse (not verified) on 24 Oct 2006 #permalink

I think I read that in Texas alone, nine people died of pertussis last year. Eight of them were infants.

You can get fined for not strapping your kids into a car seat (in most states), but not for failing to protect them against pertussis. Nutty.

By roundrobin (not verified) on 24 Oct 2006 #permalink

Thanks for this - I copied and pasted this item into an email to my sister who has 4 kids and a friend who has a 7 month old. I had no idea of the vaccination of adults strategy and if I were a mom would definitely get it. Considering how much time I spend with my sister's kids and my friend's baby I may go ahead and call the Dallas County health dept and see what it would cost me to get it.

By Sandra in Dallas (not verified) on 24 Oct 2006 #permalink

I read an article a few years ago about a woman who contracted pertussis as an adult. Sounded nasty and took her months to fully recover from it.

FYI - the adult tetanus booster is now available as a 3-in-1 shot that includes pertussis and diptheria boosters. The adult formulation of it is called TDaP (vs. DTaP for kids). Makes it a lot easier to stay current on adult vaccines.

Robster - I'm with you on that one. After studying some research on anti-vaxers and lurking on their message boards, I've reached the conclusion that most of them are in complete denial about the severity of diseases like pertussis. One of these boards even had a thread about chicken pox and mumps parties, which they promoted as a way to "naturally" immunize their children from these diseases. These people are almost cult-like in their promotion of anti-vax pseudoscience.

Roundrobin had a good point - you have to strap your kid into an approved car seat, but there's no penalty at all for deliberately exposing them to a potentially fatal disease (never mind failing to protect them with a vaccine).