Pamela A. Popper, Ph.D., N.D.

Wellness Forum Health

Every time a few dozen children develop an infectious disease, vaccine advocates label the occurrence as an “outbreak” and the propaganda machine fires up to blame unvaccinated children for the occurrence. I’ve never understood this, since the rationale for vaccination is supposed to be to protect children in the event that they are exposed to a virus. If children are not protected, then why vaccinate?

A new article posted on Medscape and which is also listed as a CME Activity for medical doctors reports a 5-month outbreak of pertussis in a Florida preschool, in which almost all of the students had been vaccinated. All 117 students at the school were eligible to receive at least three doses of the diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis vaccine, and only five children had not received all of the shots.

The situation began with a one-year old, and eventually affected 26 of the students, 2 employees and 11 family members or others who had contact with the children. Two out of the five unvaccinated children developed whooping cough and the other 24 cases involved fully vaccinated children. The highest rate of occurrence occurred in a class where all 17 children in the class had been vaccinated. The teacher in this classroom developed pertussis, and had been vaccinated, but had not received a booster shot. The authors noted that she continued to work while she had the disease, which must have meant that her illness was not life-threatening.

The authors wrote that the situation “…raises concerns about inadequate protection against pertussis in an age group believed to be well protected by acellular pertussis vaccination.”  They added that this episode calls into question the effectiveness of vaccines for preschoolers, and that “…recent pertussis vaccination should not dissuade physicians from diagnosing, testing, or treating persons with compatible illness for pertussis.” In other words, the vaccine may not work even in the short term.

The authors also noted that the number of whooping cough cases jumped 6-fold from 7867 cases to 48,277 between 2000 and 2012, stating that the cause may be that the virus has mutated which has lowered the rate of vaccine-induced immunity.

The focus of the article was to encourage doctors to test for pertussis when children present with symptoms similar to those associated with whooping cough, and that even recent vaccination should not dissuade testing children to confirm diagnosis.  There was no suggestion that our current approach to vaccination should be re-evaluated, or that vaccinations should be suspended until we determine if they actually improve public health. The best that can be said about this is at least the authors did not blame the five unvaccinated children for this episode.

Matthias J, Pritchard S, Martin S et al. “Sustained Transmission of Pertussis in Vaccinated, 1–5-Year-Old Children in a Preschool, Florida, USA.” Emerging Infectious Diseases Medscape CME Activity February 2016;2(2)