pertussis (again)

I guess I go on a bit about pertussis–“whooping cough.”  With almost 50,000 cases annually, including 20-30 deaths(mostly in infants and very young children) this infection is never very far from the thoughts of any pediatrician.

Keep some of these statistics in mind when you read some anti-vaccine sources.

Pertussis isn’t “coming back.”  It never really “goes away.”  Rather, it is commonly carried in the nasopharynx of perfectly healthy adults.  And that’s the problem: immunization rates among adults are abysmally low–26% of adults wiith young children at home and only 16% overall.  Public health authorities consider a rate of at least 90% necessary to convey adequate “herd immunity” (where the risk of random infection is sufficiently low to protect vulnerable little ones just by limiting exposure).

Another concern is the effectiveness of the modern “acellular” vaccine.  Introduced in the 1990’s as the answer to the higher incidence of unpleasant side effects from the older “whole cell” precursor, there is an unfortunate price to pay for this milder post-vaccine course.  Immunity from the acellular vaccine appears to wane after 2-4 years as opposed to the whole cell’s record of 5-10 years.  And the acellular vaccine is only 80% as effective as opposed to the whole cell’s record of > 90%.

Bottom line: if you want to protect your children and those of your friends, neighbors and extended family you should immunize your child and your self.  That means keep your shot records updated.  Check with your doctor to be sure.  Note that as a service to my patients I can look over your shot record and we offer “catch up” shots where indicated.  Please keep in mind that, as the saying goes, “certain restrictions apply.”

But give me a call and let me help out.  That’s why I’m here.


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