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Whooping Cough Vaccine Under Microscope as Disease 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 in 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, also known as pertussis, had been reported statewide, with 10 cases in Orange County.

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.

JustUs January 09, 2013 at 03:24 AM
Why do you single out one disease, mfriedrich. We are discussing MULTIPLE diseases here that were absolutely eradicated in the USA decades ago that have resurfaced. According to the CDC one of the PRIMARY reasons for the resurgence is UNSCREEN ILLEGAL MIGRANTS WHO ENTER THE NATION UNLAWFULLY, BRING THEIR DISEASES WITH THEM AND INFECT OUR CHILDREN. Go to the CDC website and read it for yourself. And you are notorious for trying to pick out bits and pieces of a discussion and go on the attack INSTEAD OF addressing the overall subject matter being discussed. I know why you do this. I just want to bring it to the attention of others so they know what you're up to. Btw, don't run away from my response to your post under John Webb's latest blog. I hate it when people 'hit and run' instead of standing their ground and replying with either "Sorry, I was wrong" or your counterargument. Pick one. Now be a big boy and face your opponent.
MFriedrich January 09, 2013 at 04:41 AM
Justus you said that these are the consequences of illegal immigration. I simply asked whether you had some evidence or other information that we dont know about with respect to illegal immigration causing the surge in pertussis cases in the US.
JustUs January 09, 2013 at 05:10 AM
There is no doubt that illegal immigration is one reason whooping cough has made a comeback. You like to pick out one specific disease to prove some kind of obscure point instead of asking the bigger question: "Is illegal immigration one prime reason for the resurgence of all these various once eradicated diseases (ie, TB, measles, malaria, mumps, whooping cough, diptheria, even leprosy) in the United States?" And the answer to that question is a resounding YES! Resurgent TB breakouts happen mainly in the southern border states and in the border towns. Same with malaria, measles, mumps, etc.... There is a REASON for that!!! heh. And why you would AVOID acknowledging it is very telling. You always throw out these "Got ya" questions to divert from the topic of conversation. And that is whether illegal (MEDICALL UNSCREENED) migrants are bringing these diseases to America and infecting our children. Stop with being such an obstructionist! Face the truth!!! ;)
MFriedrich January 09, 2013 at 05:18 AM
Im sorry, but i doubt the veracity of your claim, unless you have an article or paper that substantiates this. My comment was about the subject odf the original Patch article concerning pertussis. Mexico is the greatest source of illegal immigration. Surprisingly they have a solid immigration policy modeled after the world health organization guidelines. Also, there appear to have been no major or recent pertussis outbreaks that would have caused a big uptick in US cases of the disease. If you have some info that supports the correlation I'd be very interested to read it.
JustUs January 09, 2013 at 05:33 AM
"According to Dr. Laurence Nickey, director of the El Paso heath district “Contagious diseases that are generally considered to have been controlled in the United States are readily evident along the border ... The incidence of tuberculosis in El Paso County is twice that of the U.S. rate. Dr. Nickey also states that leprosy, which is considered by most Americans to be a disease of the Third World, is readily evident along the U.S.-Mexico border and that dysentery is several times the U.S. rate..." http://www.fairus.org/issue/illegal-immigration-and-public-health Now I predict you will tell us that Dr. Nicky, the Director of Health in the County of El Paso is not a credible source!!! HAH! Bring it!!!! hah! :^)
JustUs January 09, 2013 at 06:04 AM
Btw, in case you didn't see it, the link and proof source to your question is shown a few comments above, mfriedrich, in the event you didn't want to take the trouble to find it. So I am pointing it out to ya :) We will wait for your response. We know your response will be timely and you won't run off in the meantime. :)
MFriedrich January 09, 2013 at 06:16 AM
Yes, I've seen the correlation with tuberculosis and illegal immigration, but not with whooping cough. I don't believe there is one. Mexico has had big outbreaks of TB since the 1990s. Tb cases are acute at border us states with mexico, but cases of TB in us have been declining dramatically since 1998. With pertussis, cases appear most prevalent in northern us states that border Canada.
JustUs January 09, 2013 at 06:35 AM
Illegal immigration has a devastating impact on our health care system - both in cost and availability of resources. There are long waits in our ER's to see a doc because we have to wait in line behind the illegals. ObamaCare does NOTHING to address the problem. Business as usual. They brings the diseases into the State - we treat them for free. All of us know this is the way it works. It's totally crazy, especially when we're spending 18% of our GDP on health care. Trying to downplay the seriousness of the problem only makes it worse. Let's all grow up and demand a halt to these absurd practices before it destroys our entire health care system.
MFriedrich January 09, 2013 at 08:39 AM
JustUs, I'm not sure FAIR is a great source for objective, unbiased reports and data regarding immigration issues. They've been hauled over the coals quite a few times for fabricating facts about policy. FAIR is the Superman to the American Immigration Council's Lex Luther. Too much politics. Why not the CDC or WHO data sources?
MFriedrich January 09, 2013 at 08:54 AM
Thank you for the link. I fear we are talking past each other. You link singles out tuberculosis. The Patch article was about whooping cough. As I'm sure you appreciate, pertussis and tuberculosis are not the same thing. Your claim that these are caused by illegal immigration would appear to not be closely correlated in the instance of pertussis. We have to be mindful of sweeping generalizations that depict a different scenario than what is really taking place on the ground regarding the illness in question, pertussis. When we don't then it's possible to spread misinformation and lead people to incorrect conclusions. It can also reinforce ugly prejudices that Mexicans and other immigrants are somehow disease ridden, dirty and dangerous. TB is serious and the correlation with Asia and Latina America illegal immigration is not disputed.
Rebecca Goddard January 09, 2013 at 03:07 PM
mfriedrich You can say that there is no evidence that MMR is responsible for Autism all you want. But I know and see, and new studies have come out that if a tiny little infant that you want to pump all these chemicals into has a genetic or mitochondrial abnormality or deficiency, the metals in many vaccinces could be harmful. I have 2 kids with autism, one has his vaccinations and he is severe, and one doesn't and he is high functioning. But don't smugly say that there is no correlation between the two when you don't live the life. Look up the congressional hearings on CSpan that took place in November, and watch congress hold the CDC feet to the fire. It may enlighten you.
fact checker January 09, 2013 at 03:21 PM
Malaria is spread by Mosquitos not people. Do you have a source linking illegally migrating Mosquitos to the upsurge if malaria here? Is there an upsurge of malaria here? If so, I need to head to my Dr. for a refill of my malaria pills.
fact checker January 09, 2013 at 03:37 PM
JustUs, a bit off topic here but how do we know how many illegal children (a disturbing adjective to apply to a child) or offspring of illegal parents (if they were born here that makes them citizens doesn't it?) are in our schools? Schools can't ask for proof of citizenship. Are you suggesting that we round up all the Hispanic children and throw them out on the street? Should we position health police at all the places children frequent to make sure we are not exposed to their illegal germs? Playgrounds, movie theaters, museums, zoos, amusement parks. Should these health police be armed or should we arm the ticket takers? Can't be too careful but we have a budget problem in most places. Armed ticket takers seems less expensive than hiring off duty or retired trained weapons handlers (police, military personnel, etc.). Or should we just vaccinate ourselves? Seems a little less risky than the alternative suggested above. Armed ticket takers. <shudder>.
MFriedrich January 09, 2013 at 03:43 PM
Except I do live the life.
tiny January 09, 2013 at 04:09 PM
mf., hi, there's a matter of trust involved. Do you believe that L.H. Oswald was the lone assassin of JFK?
JustUs January 09, 2013 at 05:12 PM
"I'm not sure FAIR is a great source for objective, unbiased reports and data regarding immigration issues." Boy, you're slippery as a greased sow, mfriedrich. The data I gave you referred to the Director of Health Services in El Paso. Dr. Nickey. He was the one quoted. Again, let's stick with the FACTS and not look for an easy escape, ok??? Thank you.
JustUs January 09, 2013 at 05:17 PM
"JustUs, a bit off topic here but how do we know how many illegal children (a disturbing adjective to apply to a child) or offspring of illegal parents (if they were born here that makes them citizens doesn't it?) are in our schools?" If they can't speak english and don't provide a US birth certificate that might be a clue, fact checker. You don't have to be Kojack to figure that out. And we do have a census every 10 years. And we are able to determine an estimate of how many illegals (and their children) reside in the US. The children in the household must attend school. Correct? Not brain science, fact checker. Where did you go to fact checking school, btw??? I'd just like to know for future reference. Thanks.
JustUs January 09, 2013 at 05:21 PM
mfriedrich, our comment discussion led into a dialog on how much diesease (in general) illegal migrants bring into California. If you don't like the discussion, stay out of it. But don't tell us what we can discuss and what we can't discuss. That's not your place. There is no rule that we must discuss a specific disease in the article ONLY without discussing the overall problem of our children being infected in the schools by other diseases that have been identified as related with illegal migrants. you are not the King of the boards here.
JustUs January 09, 2013 at 05:27 PM
Thank you for speaking up, Rebecca. Since you have 2 children you certainly have skin in the game and your opinion needs to be heard. We can not really trust what drug makers tell us. Women were taking birth control pills and hormone related pills for years, not knowing that certain BCP were a cause for blood clots and heart attacks. And there have been some research that has pointed to hormone pills as a cause for cancer in some women. They won't disclose this until their back are up against the wall and they can no longer avoid the 800 pound gorilla in the living room. It's all about the MONEY. And MONEY trumps SAFETY each and every time - regardless of what the spokeholes tell you. Good for you to be concerned about the health of your children, Rebecca. God bless you, dear!
fact checker January 09, 2013 at 06:50 PM
Students are not required to show proof of citizenship to enroll in school, just proof that they are of legal age to enter school. They are not deemed "illegal" if they aren't old enough BTW. The problem is solved through vaccination. Easy peasy. If you refuse vaccination then you are part of the problem. It is your right. But diseases like polio were eradicated through immunizations. Children who attend school must show proof of immunizations in order to enroll. Their parents can opt out but I think that those who opt out are far more likely to be U.S. citizens than illegal immigrants. Immunizations are easily available and affordable.
Rebecca Goddard January 09, 2013 at 07:30 PM
During the congressional hearings on Autism in November, congress held the CDC's feet to the fire, and they have completed NO testing on children with autism being vaccinated or not vaccinated. Yet, it's very funny that there was a huge quiet settlement made for vaccine injury. An alternate vaccination schedule is what is needed, not elimination, and also, getting all of the CRAP out of the vaccinations. Why does there need to be mercury in there anyway? Why does a 2 day old infant need a Hepatitis B vaccine, unless they are going to go home and have sex and use intravenous drugs with dirty needles?
MFriedrich January 09, 2013 at 08:13 PM
I'm sorry but there's no correlation to MMR vaccine which contains thimerasol and incidents of autism. There are a lot of angry and distraught parents who believed dr wakefield's research, and alot of orgs who got political abou it. His claims were proven incorrect later on by more thorough independent research by IOM. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/autism/index.html I know of 3. Each 2 yrs apart. All immunized at full schedule. One with autism. Two without. A causal relationship would mean all 3 get autism. Autism is a complex spectrum disorder with what seems like infinite variation and severity levels. I understand the insistence on outside factors. There may be. I'm more inclined to believe genetic causal factors. But everyone is in a rush for the finish line on it. Without peer review, a lot of people looked really foolish, as Dr. Wakefield and many parents found out. Sadly a lot people have refused to immunize, which puts other children and adults at risk.
MFriedrich January 09, 2013 at 08:21 PM
rebecca, this is why Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for newborns. It has nothing directly to do with IV drug use or sex. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/hepb/fs-parents.html
MFriedrich January 09, 2013 at 08:41 PM
Tiny, I totally get the lack of trust. So they won't immunize their children. The children will not be matriculated into public schools. Theyll be part of a population serving as a reservoir of preventable infectious disease. Whooping cough is serious too. It can lead to pneumonia and death. If they don't want to do it, but then everyone surrenders their right to moan when we all have to start showing immunization records to board a flight.
tiny January 09, 2013 at 09:10 PM
When I went to school in the 70s we didn't have to get these immunizations and people were ok. So what is the difference do you think?
PK January 11, 2013 at 07:59 PM
Not hard to figure this one out. Thanks Mexico!
suz marie January 20, 2013 at 07:33 AM
I agree JustUs and this conversation needs to be sent to the White House. Addtionally, we are told, at least here in CA, that illegal immigrants come here to improve their lives and are poor and work very hard; so how do they pay for these vaccinations or are they just not getting them? It sounds to me like the school aged kids if they want to attend our public schools have to get the vaccinations, yes/no? This topic is definately worth exploring because if they are obtaining the vaccines free or at low cost the rest of America needs to know "where" these sites are so they can also obtain free vaccinations. I found out that a Catholic Spanish church a mile away offered free flu vaccinations...only the hispanic community near the church and surrounding area gets wind of these things; i am unemployed since juen 2011 and american citizen and i don't get wind of anything free...what is up with this?
Julie Flores February 19, 2013 at 05:45 PM
There is no outbreak of Pertussis in Mexico, that is just a fact.
Julie Flores February 19, 2013 at 05:45 PM
There is no outbreak of Pertussis in Mexico, that is just a fact.
Kathi February 19, 2013 at 07:44 PM
suz marie, just saw your comment about free flu vaccinations. I believe the OC Health dept has info about free flu shots for those who qualify. I used to get them each year in Mission Viejo at the Sr Center. So they are available & not just for hispanics. Also I think the OC Register sometimes has lists of where free flu shots are available & for whom they are available. Sometimes it was for those over say 50 or 60 or who had a risk factor such as asthma or working w children or the elderly, etc. Of course those on Medicare I believe can get them from their dr. I have decided now, not to get them but am being very careful when I go out to not touch my face after touching various surfaces. & then when I get home, I immediately wash my hands. That & a natural remedy & I have not gotten sick this year, unlike the way I used to always get respiratory bugs in the Fall.

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