Whooping Cough Vaccine May Not Work as Well as We Thought

vaccinationVaccines freak me out, plain and simple. I've read the research on all sides, but believe there are still too many unknowns not to be at least a little wary. My children get them -- some delayed -- but each one strikes fear in my heart about possible side effects. The fear of the diseases they could get if they aren't vaccinated is stronger, however, and I know that potentially deadly ones like whooping cough can be prevented with them. Or so I thought.

Now, a new study says that even though I made that leap and did vaccinate my children for whooping cough, they could still get it. Add another fear to the heap ...

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According to an article in The Huffington Post, researchers found that the currently recommended series of five vaccines given incrementally between 2 months and 4-6 years of age may not always be strong enough to last until a child is 11 or 12 -- the age of the first recommended booster. They found that the vaccine's effectiveness is more likely just 2-3 years. That would explain some recent outbreaks of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, in children who were supposedly fully vaccinated. Great.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), whooping cough starts out like a regular cold with a runny nose and cough, then after a week or so, children begin to "cough violently and rapidly, over and over, until the air is gone from their lungs and they're forced to inhale with a loud ‘whooping' sound." For about 1 in 20 infants, it will develop into pneumonia; and about 1 in 100 has convulsions from it. In the most extreme cases, it can result in death. In other words: It's nothing to mess around with.

In California, where whooping cough has hit the hardest in recent time, officials have given the okay for doctors to give a booster to kids as young as 7. The CDC has not at this point, though new guidelines were recently released that say "a single dose of Tdap should be given to children aged 7 to 10 who were underimmunized or who have an incomplete vaccination history." New guidelines for adults were also included.

The CDC stresses that the vaccine is still the best defense against the disease and that it does save lives. But more discussion is sure to be forthcoming as to whether more shots will be added to your kids' vaccine schedules, likely fueling the vax/anti-vax fire in the process.

Personally, it just reaffirms my fears that there are still too many unknowns when it comes to vaccines.

Does this news about whooping cough alarm you?


Image via UNICEF Siverge/Flickr

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