A new study has found that the whooping cough vaccine appears to lose its effectiveness after just three years – much sooner than doctors believed.
“I was disturbed to find maybe we had a little more confidence in the vaccine than it might deserve,” said the lead researcher, Dr. David Witt, chief of infectious disease at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Rafael, Calif. Witt presented his findings Monday at the American Society for Microbiology conference in Chicago.
The study was done in California, where whooping cough vaccinations are a hot-button issue. The state had a huge spike in whooping cough cases last year, during which more than 9,100 people fell ill and 10 babies died. California schools have turned away thousands of middle and high school students this fall who haven’t gotten their booster shot.
Government health officials recommend that children get vaccinated against whooping cough in five doses, with the first shot at age 2 months and the final one between 4 and 6 years. Then youngsters are supposed to get a booster shot around 11 or 12. That means a gap of five to eight years.
Witt’s study looked at roughly 15,000 children in Marin County, Calif., including 132 who got whooping cough last year. He found that youngsters who had gone three years or more since the last of their five original shots were as much as 20 times more likely to become infected than children who had been more recently vaccinated. The largest number of cases was in children 8 to 12 years old.
Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly contagious bacterial disease that in rare cases can be fatal. It leads to severe coughing that causes children to make a distinctive whooping sound as they gasp for breath.”
This study finally explains to me how Walsh was diagnosed with whooping cough when he was around 5 or 6 even though I knew he had all his vaccinations for it.
I couldn’t understand how he had gotten it. At the time the doctor said they had seen the cases increasing but they weren’t sure why. A theory was that unvaccinated people were spreading it around but that didn’t explain how the vaccinated were picking it up.
So I am wondering: Has your child been diagnosed with whooping cough in the last few years? What explanation was given to you? Will you ask your doctor about a booster for the vaccine sooner than currently recommended?