But the story may be much more complicated, and may need a more open discussion amongst those responsible for protecting us from these infectious diseases. These pertussis outbreaks may be a result of the reduced performance of the pertussis vaccine currently being used. The problem with an open discussion regarding the current vaccine is that the vaccine denialists will make an absolute claim that the pertussis vaccine does not work (of course, a complete fabrication, typical of the anti-vaxxers), instead of the more accurate position that the pertussis vaccine might not have the high level of effectiveness that was originally thought. Ironically, the current vaccine, the acellular pertussis version, replaced the older and more effective whole pertussis vaccine because critics believed the older version had too many side effects. Continue reading “Whooping cough–effectiveness of pertussis vaccines”
In 2009, approximately 9.5% of Portland-area parents (out of a study population of nearly 98,000 children) consistently did not follow the recommended vaccine schedule for children from birth to nine months of age. Parents were considered “shot limiters” if they would not allow their children to be vaccinated with more than one or two shots at a time. The study noted that many who limit shots may be following an alternative schedule and plan to eventually complete the schedule, many do not follow through. Shot limited children also had more physician visits, presumably to complete the course of vaccinations.
According to Robison, an epidemiologist with the Oregon Sentinel Immunization Surveillance region, “There is no benefit to spacing out shots or getting fewer shots per visit. It is a very carefully constructed schedule intended to provide the most benefit when these kids need it.”
It remains unknown if the Oregon observations are applicable to the nation as a whole. However, if children haven’t received the proper vaccinations, it may reduce herd immunity leading to increased risks of outbreaks.
According to Dr. Fiona Ryan, a consultant in public health medicine, “At the moment, the best way to ensure safety is to ensure that babies are not exposed to older children who may not be vaccinated and who are incubating the disease. Some cases have unvaccinated brothers and sisters, so they are very likely to become infected. Unfortunately the symptoms are very non-specific before they get the rash.” Continue reading “Measles outbreak in Ireland”
The New York Times is reporting that the State of Washington has been hit by a whooping cough (pertussis) epidemic that has hit 1,284 individuals in 2012, 10 times the 128 seen at this point in 2011. At this rate, there could be over 3000 cases by the end of 2012. Of those infected so far in 2012, 86 infants (under age of 1 year) required hospitalization, including 19 of whom were under 2 months. Pertussis immunization, with the DTaP vaccine, does not confer full immunity to the child until the third vaccination at 6 months of age, during which the infant is susceptible to catching the disease from adults with lapsed immunity or other children who are not vaccinated. However, even children with the first vaccination have some immunity, so the infection could be milder than in a child without any vaccination. Continue reading “Whooping cough: Washington State lacks funds to fight epidemic”