Has your child had the whooping cough? Study shows vaccine not lasting as long as doctors thought

A new study has found that the whooping cough vaccine appears to lose its effectiveness after just three years – much sooner than doctors believed.

From The Associated Press:

“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?

26 comments Add your comment


September 20th, 2011
7:49 am

None of ours have ever been diagnosed with whooping cough — They have all had their fair share of all the “normal” childhood ailments but, thankfully, not whooping cough.


September 20th, 2011
8:00 am

No, mine have not been diagnosed with whooping cough.


September 20th, 2011
8:13 am

My daughter has never been diagnosed with it, but yikes about the vaccination losing effectiveness and doctors not realizing it until now!


September 20th, 2011
8:21 am

Mine haven’t caught it, but let me tell you, the commercial on the radio by Jennifer Lopez about a year back advertising that YOU should get the vaccination to protect babies had me in tears. The sound of that little baby coughing uncontrollably, gasping for air and unable to breathe… my God. I did some research on it and the videos are heartbreaking. These poor little ones can NOT stop coughing to take a single breath. It’s terrifying to see, and I’m not usually swayed by these types of ads that really push you on things like this. I’m too skeptical and critical of a thinker; however, as the mother of a 9 month old, hearing the sound or seeing the video still upsets me. Two months before the first vaccination for your baby is an eternity for them to catch something. I can only hope that nursing really reduces the chances and that adults are responsible enough to stay away from babies if they’ve got ANY kind of symptoms of even just a cold or allergies.


September 20th, 2011
8:24 am

My son never had whooping cough nor can I recall anyone of my friend’s children having it but I certainly would hate to see a preventable disease make a come back. I’m curious how much the vaccine costs and how widely available it should be made to everyone if a booster is necessary (i.e. could it be made as widely available as the flu shot?)


September 20th, 2011
8:39 am

I had whooping cough as a child (along with every single other childhood disease they have vaccines for, now!), but my kids have never had it.

Apparently, adults can get it, too, but the symptoms are often much milder, sometimes unrecognizable from a lingering cold that just won’t go away (the “100 day cough”).. I wonder if the vaccine has changed in the last 20 or 30 years? And isn’t it interesting that the bacteria, Bordetella pertussis is human whooping cough, and Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacteria of the same genus that causes kennel cough in dogs — and dogs have to have Bordetella shots every six months if they are boarded.

So maybe the human whooping cough is something that just needs more frequent shots? Interesting . . .


September 20th, 2011
9:03 am

My nephew had it at 4 months. He’s now 12 and still suffers from chronic asthma as a result.


September 20th, 2011
9:15 am

No for my two or anyone in my family that I know of..


September 20th, 2011
9:34 am

I first learned of the Pertussis (Whooping Cough) problem at this web site:http://www.natalienortonphoto.com/2010/01/gavin-david-bruce-norton.html
It is a scary thing. This child died at around five months old – just before he was scheduled for his first vaccine.
My own children have never had it.


September 20th, 2011
9:42 am

@April, at least when my nephew was a baby, it was a 3 part vaccination. He’d had two of the three when he got it.

They think he caught it at Biltmore Estates (not that the actual place is really relevant). He was so small, and he hadn’t been in daycare yet at that point…he hardly went anywhere. They took him to Biltmore to have a Christmas card picture made. You just never know where the little ones can pick stuff like that up.

He was really touch and go there for a couple of weeks or so. He had to sleep with a heart monitor on. My sister would lie in her room and try to sleep. Every few hours, the baby would roll over and the monitor strap would come off. The monitor would start beeping like his heart had stopped. Needless to say, my sister didn’t sleep much.


September 20th, 2011
10:06 am

@jarvis: we had an O2 (oxygen) monitor on our son for quite some time – I can sympathize with your sister. That alarm went off constantly. I don’t know how we survived.


September 20th, 2011
10:16 am

April: Went to the web site you commented on and went through their info as well. Cried all over again. The sound of a little baby gasping between unending coughs is so heartbreaking to hear, and the stories from those who have lost a little one to this terrible, preventable disease are tragic. How awful for anybody to have to watch a child die, especially a tiny baby.


September 20th, 2011
10:31 am

Not checked to see if there’s an online version of Dr. Oz’s show this past Thursday afternoon but if you didn’t see it, you really should check it out. According to top world scientist, smallpox is what we all should feel and parents that opt out of vacinating their children are out fault and could cause a world wide outbreak.


September 20th, 2011
10:40 am

I’ve been lucky. My son never gets sick. I don’t know anyone whose kids ever had whooping cough, but it sounds dreadful.


September 20th, 2011
11:10 am

That should have read “smallpox is what we all should feel threatened by”. crazy morning


September 20th, 2011
12:06 pm

@jmb: People haven’t “opted out” of smallpox vaccinations — it was discontinued as a routine vaccination in 1972 in the US, and elsewhere in the world in the 70’s based on medical advice that the disease’s appearance was below vaccination-affected rates. Vaccines are not in production, now, except in very limited quantitites — the only people who get vaccinations these days are military personnel deployed to potentially high-risk areas (the Middle East and Korea) and health-care works who work in at-risk situations. The last known case of naturally-occurring smallpox was in the mid-70’s. The last case in the US was in 1949.

The thing that I find unsettling about smallpox is its ability to be used as weapon of biological warfare, since there are so few people vaccinated against it. There are samples of the live virus at the CDC here in Atlanta, and its counterpart in Russia for research purposes — but there are also rumors of stockpiles in various “hot spots” around the world, such as North Korea.


September 20th, 2011
1:34 pm

DB – I didn’t get to catch the entire show but did see a part about them saying should smallpox come back today, they didn’t have the resources to get the vacine distributed before many lives are lost. They did stress that because so many parents are opting not to vacinate thier children, those risks are getting stronger every day and they are very worried about it. They said the new movie “Contagion” best describes how it would spread and that it’s very likely to happen in our lifetime. Very creepy!


September 20th, 2011
1:47 pm

TnT's Mom

September 20th, 2011
2:04 pm

Interesting – When we were checking immunizations on my year old to live in the dorm at college, the doctor ran a blood test and told us that he was not immune to Hep B. I thought what the heck, that was a series of shots he had as a baby over 17 years ago! So for how many years was he at risk and we didn’t know?

Our own worst enemy

September 20th, 2011
4:02 pm

DB – It is the CDC’s stockpile of smallpox that the world really has to worry about. They are so in need of a worldwide pandemic, and it is so important for our government to have its will upon the world that I wouldn’t put it past anyone in our government to be working on a smallpox weapon just to make their point and to perpetuate the fearmongering. Remember how unbelievably hard they tried to scare everyone with the H1N1. They did everything they could to generate tons of revenue for the vaccine industry, the Tamiflu folks, etc. but many of us saw through the lies from the beginning. The overall effectiveness of vaccines is never fully documented or studied. This whooping cough vaccine issue you make everyone question just how big the lie about vaccines really is.


September 20th, 2011
9:19 pm

My 24 year old daughter had whooping cough a couple years ago while she was at college – I was shocked when she told me! As a child she had had her complete regimen of vaccinations. She was living on campus, and going to the college clinic – it took a couple visits, presricptions, and tests for them to figure it out. Amazing.


September 21st, 2011
6:53 am

I am very alarmed to hear that after 5 doses before age 5, the kids are only protected for 3 years. I’m even more alarmed that the CDC’s answer to this is to possibly add another booster. When a vaccine isn’t working, even after all of those doses – its time to look at the vaccine formulation and see if the bacteria that’s spreading around even matches the vaccine strain… IF this information is true, anyone over the age of 15 is able to harbor and spread this disease. It even says on the inserts that vaccinated teens and adults can spread pertussis in the absence of symptoms. Sounds to me like they know (and have known!) that the vax isn’t very effective


September 21st, 2011
6:55 am

TNTs mom: they know the Hep B wears off too and are recommending a booster at 12 years of age. So, in reality, vaccinating newborns against Hep B (which they are in virtually no danger of contracting) has been a completely and unnecessary experiment.(unless the mother has the disease when the child is born)

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September 23rd, 2011
10:09 am

My daughter is three and a half and is up to date on all of her Pertussis vaccines. She had a mild cold with a mild congested cough that would interrupt her sleep (coughing only about eight times a day) and we took her to the doctor see how to help thin the mucus while she got over her cold. The doctor said her chest was clear and my daughter didn’t cough through the whole appointment but the doctor took a culture from her nose to send to the lab just in case. Two days later, the doctor’s office called and said she tested positive for Whooping Cough. My daughter was feeling fine, acting normal and had only a slight congested cough at this point; she was put on a five day quarantine with antibiotics. The health department instructed my husband and I to go on antibiotics as a preventative and anyone she had come into contact with before her diagnosis was instructed to get antibiotics as well.

This is a very frustrating situation that is only getting worse due to parents choosing not to vaccinate their children. My daughter wasn’t the only child at her school with these same mild symptoms