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Outbreaks of pertussis occur every two to five years. Each time, those rascals…the unvaccinated…are blamed. Convenient to say the least. A look at the CDC’s own statistics and studies about the subject prove this to be an intellectually lazy false assumption. And then there are studies showing the vaccinated and unvaccinated have the same rates of pertussis. Inconvenient.

In the first six months of 2014, there has been much media coverage and discussion among health professionals about an increase in pertussis (whooping cough) cases. As usual, there is much to be learned by digging deeper into the issue, the studies quoted…or not quoted at times…and the motivation behind those who purport to be experts on the subject.

Yes, pertussis is increasing over the last few years. And increases have proven to be cyclical over the course of many decades. Roughly every three to five years, there’s a spike upward in reported cases. Recent spikes have alarmed doctors with their numbers. None of this is comforting to parents if their child gets sick with whooping cough.

But…

If you simply read the headlines about this subject, it seems clear. Whooping cough cases are increasing and we are led to believe it’s probably due to the “unvaccinated” kids. Much of the confusion reported in the mainstream media is due to the study, Nonmedical Vaccine Exemptions and Pertussis in California, 2010 from the journal Pediatrics which concluded: “Other studies have shown evidence to support several factors that have likely contributed to the increase in pertussis cases in recent years. Our findings suggest that communities with large numbers of intentionally unvaccinated or undervaccinated persons can lead to pertussis outbreaks. In the presence of limited vaccine effectiveness and waning immunity, sustained community-level transmission can occur, putting those who are most susceptible to communicable diseases, such as young infants, at increased risk.”1

Except…this is a conclusion of correlation, not causation. The authors of this study correlated areas of population that have high unvaccinated or undervaccinated people and then looked for hospital visits in or around those areas that had admissions of patients with whopping cough.

A study of causation would have reviewed the actual patients who were admitted to the hospitals and determined if they had or had not been vaccinated or if they were undervaccinated. No one in this study was asked if they were or were not vaccinated or undervaccinated.

Undervaccinated is important as the government recommends children get five doses, the first shot at 2 months and last between 4 and 6 years. A booster shot is recommended around 11 or 12. Some children don’t complete the full course.

Further adding to skepticism, the CDC clearly disagrees with the above study. Note this statement in Question #6 from the CDC’s Pertussis Frequently Asked Questions page:

“Even though children who haven’t received DTaP vaccines are at least 8 times more likely to get pertussis than children who received all 5 recommended doses of DTaP, they are not the driving force behind the large scale outbreaks or epidemics.”2

And…the mainstream media reports the false assumptions as if they are proven science:

ABC News: Whopping Cough Outbreak Fueled by Vaccination Refusals

NBC News: Vaccine Refusal Fuels Whopping Cough Outbreaks, Study Finds

USA Today: Vaccine Refusal Linked to California Pertussis Outbreak

In fact…most of the children with whopping cough in these outbreaks have been vaccinated. A 2012 study looking at this issue from the Oxford Journal, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Unexpectedly Limited Durability of Immunity Following Acellular Pertussis Vaccination in Pre-Adolescents in a North American Outbreak stated: “This first detailed analysis of a recent North American pertussis outbreak found widespread disease among fully vaccinated older children. Starting approximately three years after prior vaccine dose, attack rates markedly increased, suggesting inadequate protection or durability from the acellular vaccine.”3

But then, for some reason…they decided to cover their tracks. This study that first appeared March 15, 2012 was edited May 21, 2012. The above paragraph was removed.4

Yet, in the body of the study, they state:

Of the 132 individuals (77.2%) aged ≤18 years at time of illness, 81% were fully vaccinated, 11% were undervaccinated, and 8% were never vaccinated. Of the 103 individuals (60.2%) aged ≤12 years, 85% were fully vaccinated, 7% were undervaccinated, and 8% were never vaccinated.

There were 22,798 patients aged ≤18 years in our patient population. In this group, vaccination rates across ages were excellent, ranging from 88%–94%. Among confirmed cases of pertussis, vaccination rates were comparable in the groups aged 2–7 years and 8–12 years, when contrasted with age-matched controls. Among the 58 cases of pertussis in children aged 10–12 years, 55 (95%) had received ≥5 doses of pertussis vaccination. Eight of these 58 children (14%) had received their sixth booster dose prior to onset of disease. In children aged 13–18 years and in the entire cohort of those aged 2–18 years, there was a highly significant increase in cases among unvaccinated children.

The last line of the previous paragraph is interesting. So, there was a “highly significant increase in cases among unvaccinated chldren”? But, previously they stated that the majority of the new cases were in children who had been vaccinated.

This study also surprisingly admits, “We found a lower than expected protection from disease by the primary five-dose series of acellular pertussis vaccine, suggesting that pertussis vaccine, administered according to the current guidelines, may not adequately protect the pre and early adolescent population. Surprisingly, in the 2-7 and 8-12 age groups, there was no significant difference in attack rates between fully vaccinated and under and un-vaccinated children…”

Another study in 2010 published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciencesfound that, “…despite more than 50 years of population-wide vaccination, cases of whooping cough are on the rise. The culprit? Antigens of Bordetella pertussis that not only are completely ineffective at preventing infection with Bordetella parapertussis, a whooping cough bacterium similar to B. pertussis, but actually promote it by interfering with the body’s natural infection clearance protocols.”5

If the antigens are known to interfere with natural infection clearing mechanisms, what other infections or diseases might occur?

The most recent study from the June 24, 2014 British Journal of Medicine confirms the finding of theOxford Journal cited above and concludes vaccinated children get pertusis at a rate of 18%, the same rate as those not vaccinated stating. “Fifty six (20%, 95% confidence interval 16% to 25%) children had evidence of recent pertussis infection, including 39 (18%, 13% to 24%) of 215 children who had been fully vaccinated.”

The authors go on to state that what this study adds is, “Pertussis can still be found in a fifth of school age children who present in primary care with persistent cough and can cause clinically significant cough in fully vaccinated children.”

In simpler terms, the pertusis vaccine does not change the occurrence rate between those vaccinated and unvaccinated. It doesn’t work.

1. Nonmedical Vaccine Exemptions and Pertussis in California, 2010, Pediatrics Vol. 132 No. 4 October 1, 2013, pp. 624-630.
2. http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/about/faqs.html
3. Witt MA, Katz PH, Witt DJ. Unexpectedly limited durability of immunity following acellular pertussis vaccination in preadolescents in a North American outbreak. Clin Infect Dis 2012;54:1730-5. – http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2012/03/13/cid.cis287
4. http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/54/12/1730
5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2880100/
6. Wang, Kay, et al., Whooping cough in school age children presenting with persistent cough in UK primary care after introduction of the preschool pertussis booster vaccination: prospective cohort study, BMJ 2014;348:g3668.

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