Whooping Cough Outbreak: Don't Blame Anti-Vaxxers, Blame the Vaccine

child coughing

Whooping cough outbreaks over the past several years have been blamed on parents who chose not to vaccinate their children against the infection. But according to a new study, published in the journal  PLOS ONE Computational Biology, the increase in cases can actually be traced back to a change in the makeup of the vaccine itself.


In 2012, the United States saw the highest amount whooping cough cases since 1955. About 48,000 children were infected that year alone. Since then, the number have gone down (2014 saw just about 29,000 cases), but the number is still problematic, according to doctors. 

The group of researchers studied whooping cough cases in the United States from 1950 to 2009. They modeled their data and found that when doctors changed their vaccine's components in the 1990s, the number of diagnosed causes immediately rose.

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The original whole-cell vaccine was developed in the 1940s. In 1991, the medical community introduced an acellular vaccine that, it turns out, only works for about 80 percent of cases. The whole-cell vaccine, on the other hand, prevented approximately 90 percent of cases. The new vaccine is deemed safer than the original one (which caused high fevers and other harsh side effects), but its effectiveness was severely cut.

Parents have debated the vaccine's effectiveness for years, but this new study shows that now, with the rise in cases, there's a high need for an improved vaccine.

Do you think there should be a new whooping cough vaccine?



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