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Monday, January 10, 2011

Whooping cough makes a comeback - vaccines not preventing it

California is experiencing a whooping cough epidemic, the worst in 60 years. Ten babies have died throughout the state in 2010 and more than 7,000 people became sick. Throughout California, about 80 percent of the people diagnosed with whooping cough (also known as pertussis) were vaccinated against it. So how did this happen?

By 1946, mass immunization began in the U.S. and cases of whooping cough dropped dramatically. In 1996, a new vaccine was approved, that was considered to be safer with fewer side effects. About the same time, however, the bacterium which causes whooping cough was morphing and becoming more virulent. A large school of thought says that the 1996 formulation is ineffective against this more virulent strain and the vaccine industry refuses to spend the considerable sum of money required by the FDA to change the formulation. The CDC, however, refutes that there is anything wrong with the current vaccine.

A four-month investigation by the Watchdog Institute, an investigative reporting center at San Diego State University, and KPBS, San Diego’s public broadcast affiliate, found the vaccinations are not working, and that economic ties to vaccine companies that make the pertussis vaccine have knitted a blanket of silence over those whom we would expect to warn the public – people who defend the current vaccine have received financial compensation from one or both of the companies that make the vaccine. Also, Sanofi Pasteur and GlaxoSmith Kline, have funded expert groups that recommend vaccine policy on the disease to government agencies.

Dr. Grout’s comment:

Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory illness that may mimic a cold for the first 10 days. It then can produce a violent and persistent cough with a distinct “whooping” sound. For adults, pertussis may only be a nuisance, like a bad cold. But to infants it can be deadly because they can’t cough up what collects in their lungs and infections can spread. Babies are given the vaccine at the age of two months.  Most children and adults survive whooping cough without any complications whatsoever, but some do not. Similarly, some receive the whooping cough vaccine without a problem, while others do not.

The investigation questions how much influence the vaccine industry has over public health policy. This area of questioning is not new, but it does not often make the mainstream news.

Barbara Loe Fisher, founder of the National Vaccine Information Center, reported that the experts also fail to tell the public thatanother Bordetella organism – parapertussis – also can cause whooping cough. B. parapertussis symptoms, while often milder, can look exactly like B. pertussis. But doctors rarely recognize or test for parapertussis. And there is NO vaccine for parapertussis.”

Whether to vaccinate – just a few or none at all – is a critical question all parents face today. There are no guarantees. For help, see the various articles in our reading library. 

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