The Whooping Cough Vaccine We Currently Have Isn’t All That Awesome At Preventing Whooping Cough After All

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whooping cough vaccinesParents who are sticking to that recommended vaccine schedule (and therefore not inventing their own) are definitely doing their kids a service. But even if you’ve accrued mommy/daddy points for getting your kid the five recommended whooping cough vaccines on time, that immunity could very well wane a few years later. Nevertheless, doctors are still saying that you parents are doing what you’re supposed to.

Reuters reports that a study determined that protection against pertussis “starts to weaken” a few years after the final DTaP shot. And researchers are definitely seeing the effects:

“What has become apparent is there’s a fairly dramatic and startling increase in pertussis in children in the seven- to 10-year-old age group,” said Dr. H. Cody Meissner, a pediatrician from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston who didn’t participate in the new research.

In the 1990s, a new pertussis vaccine reportedly came on the scene called an “acellular vaccine.” Said vaccine performs well in the short-term with less side effects. But on the flip side, the vaccine perhaps gives kids “less-complete” protection, some experts posit. (The newer whooping cough vaccine in Australia isn’t all that stellar either).

In determining the accellular vaccine’s flaws, Sara Tartof from Southern California Permanente Medical Group and her researchers used immunization records coupled with whooping cough data to study over 400,000 kids.

The children, all from Oregon and Minnesota, were born between 1998 and 2003, and received all five DTaP shots. The final vaccine was administered between the ages of four and six years old. Then they waited:

Over the following six years, 458 kids from Minnesota came down with whooping cough. The rate of new cases rose from 16 per 100,000 children in the first year after their most recent DTaP shot to 138 per 100,000 in year six.

In Oregon, there were 89 cases – six per 100,000 kids in the first year and 24 per 100,000 in the sixth.

Dr. Eugene Shapiro, a pediatrician and infectious diseases researcher from the Yale School of Medicine, says that a new vaccine is what is “ideally” needed. But don’t you dare  imply that these vaccines don’t work, nor assume that you can just cancel those doctor appointments — for you, your teens, our your baby brood:

“An important thing to remember is the kids who do receive all five doses on time generally have milder (whooping cough) than those who are under-vaccinated or unvaccinated,” Tartof told Reuters Health.

“Even though there is waning immunity… getting the five doses on time is still the best protection you can give your kid.”…

“It is so important that people do not interpret this as the vaccine doesn’t work, and then not get vaccinated at all,” Meissner said, “because then we would really have a problem.”

Yeah, this problem.

(photo:  jang14 / Shutterstock)