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Pertussis Vaccine

Story at-a-glance -

  • Recent FDA study in infant baboons showed that while the pertussis vaccine can cut down on serious clinical disease symptoms, it doesn’t eliminate transmission of B. pertussis whooping cough
  • The baboon study suggests that if you’re recently vaccinated against whooping cough and then are exposed to B. pertussis, you may not get classic symptoms of the disease but could temporarily become an asymptomatic carrier, which is “good for you but not for the population,” according to the study’s lead researcher
  • This may partly explain recent outbreaks of whooping cough among the highly vaccinated U.S. population, in which 95 percent of children have received at least five doses of pertussis vaccine between two months and six years old. Previous recovery from natural B. pertussis infection was found to confer better protection against becoming an asymptomatic carrier after exposure to B. pertussis than a history of previous vaccination
  • The study suggests pertussis vaccine-acquired immunity is an illusion. While vaccination may protect against development of severe clinical symptoms upon exposure to B. pertussis, a vaccinated person can still colonize B. pertussis bacteria and transmit the infection to others
 

Whooping Cough Vaccine (Pertussis) : FDA Study Shatters Illusion of Vaccine-Induced Immunity

December 10, 2013 | 270,801 views

By Dr. Mercola

Recent vaccine research again reveals the gulf between what you're told about vaccines—how they work and how effective they are at preventing infectious disease—versus what is truly known about naturally acquired and vaccine acquired immunity.

Nearly a century after the release of the whooping cough (B. pertussis) vaccine, mounting evidence suggests that widespread mandated use of the vaccine could potentially be doing more harm than good in the long term—in addition to having been found lacking in the effectiveness department. As reported by The Washington Post:1

"The research suggests that while the vaccine may keep people from getting sick, it doesn't prevent them from spreading whooping cough — also known as pertussis — to others.

'It could explain the increase in pertussis that we're seeing in the US,' said one of the researchers, Tod Merkel of the Food and Drug Administration...

Last year was the nation's worst year for whooping cough in six decades— US health officials received reports of more than 48,000 cases, including 18 deaths... Some studies have concluded the newer vaccine doesn't last as long as the old one. But the study by Merkel and his colleagues offers a new wrinkle."

New 'Wrinkle' Busts Major Hole in Pro-Mandatory Vaccination Argument

The "new wrinkle" revealed in the featured FDA baboon study is that while the vaccine can cut down on serious clinical disease symptoms, it doesn't eliminate transmission of the disease.2 This busts a major hole in the entire argument that vaccines achieve herd immunity, which is used as justification for mandatory vaccination campaigns.

According to the Washington Post:3

"'[I]t was thought that people only spread the disease when they had coughs and other symptoms,' said Dr. Erik Hewlett, a University of Virginia whooping cough researcher who was not involved in the FDA study but has collaborated with Merkel.

Health officials have sought to protect small children by vaccinating the people who are in contact with them such as grandparents and baby sitters— a strategy called 'cocooning.' But that may not work as well as hoped if infected people who don't show any symptoms can still spread it, the research suggests. 'This is a whole new way of thinking of the problem,' Hewlett said."

Whooping Cough Vaccine Makes You an 'Asymptomatic Carrier'

The study, titled: "Acellular pertussis vaccines protect against disease but fail to prevent infection and transmission in a nonhuman primate model,"4 used infant baboons to test the hypothesis that "current acellular pertussis vaccines fail to prevent colonization and transmission" of B. pertussis.

The acellular pertussis vaccines that were licensed in 1996 for infants to replace reactive whole-cell pertussis vaccines contain lower levels of certain toxins (such as endotoxin) as well as purified antigens instead of all the components of whole killed B. pertussis bacteria.

The study concluded that infant baboons given Sanofi DTaP (Daptacel) vaccine at two, four, and six months of age were protected against developing outward clinical symptoms of pertussis after being exposed to B. pertussis at seven months of age, but they were still able colonize and transmit B. pertussis to other baboons.

The baboons that were vaccinated with whole cell pertussis (GlaxoSmithKline's Infanrix) also colonized B. pertussis upon exposure to B. pertussis, but they cleared the infection much faster than the acellular pertussis vaccinated baboons—in 18 days compared to 35 days.

Now, the researchers did not say that DTaP vaccine causes vaccine strain pertussis infection. B. pertussis vaccines (both whole cell DPT and acellular DTaP/Tdap) are inactivated vaccines and do not cause vaccine strain infection the way some attenuated live virus vaccines can—such as live oral polio (OPV) and varicella zoster (chickenpox) vaccines.

However, the lead author Tod Merkel did comment to the New York Times5 that when exposed to B. pertussis after recently getting vaccinated, you could be an asymptomatic carrier and infect others, saying:

"When you're newly vaccinated, you are an asymptomatic carrier, which is good for you, but not for the population."

Pertussis Vaccine May Not Curb Transmission of Illness

According to the researchers, acellular pertussis vaccine (Daptacel) induces high antibody titers, which is used to measure efficacy. Whole cell DPT (Infanrix) and natural B. pertussis infection also induce high antibody titers.

But, while acellular pertussis vaccinated baboons did not develop serious clinical disease symptoms—such as loss of appetite and cough—when they were directly challenged with B. pertussis (meaning exposed to the B. pertussis bacteria), they still colonized B. pertussis in their throats and were capable of transmitting the infection to other baboons.

Since acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccines are the only type of pertussis vaccines now given to American children at the ages of two, four, six and 15-18 months, as well as between the ages of four and six years and at 11-12 years, the researchers said:

"These data suggest that cocooning is unlikely to be an effective strategy to reduce the burden of pertussis in infants. However, it is important to note that our data in combination with human data show that vaccination with acellular pertussis provides excellent protection from severe pertussis.

Therefore, any short-term plan for addressing the resurgence of pertussis should include continued efforts to enhance acellular pertussis immunization. However, to protect the most vulnerable members of the population and achieve optimal herd immunity, it will be necessary to develop a vaccination strategy that effectively blocks pertussis infection and transmission."

What You Need to Know About 'Herd Immunity'

The issue of "herd immunity" as it pertains to vaccinations is a widely misunderstood subject. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases describes vaccine-induced herd immunity (also labeled "community immunity" by public health doctors) as follows:6

"When a critical portion of a community is immunized against a contagious disease, most members of the community are protected against that disease because there is little opportunity for an outbreak. Even those who are not eligible for certain vaccines—such as infants, pregnant women, or immunocompromised individuals—get some protection because the spread of contagious disease is contained. This is known as 'community immunity.'"

What many people don't realize is that there is such a thing as natural herd immunity. The problem is that public health officials assume that vaccines will work the same way. However, vaccines do not confer the same kind of immunity as experiencing and recovering from the natural disease.

The science clearly shows that there's a big difference between naturally acquired herd immunity and vaccine-acquired herd immunity, even as scientific knowledge about the biological mechanisms involved in naturally acquired and vaccine acquired immunity is incomplete. These facts are usually ignored because to openly acknowledge them opens the door to some very unwelcome questions about the overall effectiveness of mandatory vaccination programs.

Vaccines are designed to trick your body's immune system into producing an immune response that includes making protective antibodies that are needed to resist future exposure to the infectious viral or bacterial microorganism. However, your body is smarter than that. The artificial manipulation of your immune system by vaccines containing lab altered bacteria and viruses, as well as chemicals and other ingredients, simply does not exactly replicate the response that your immune system mounts when naturally encountering the infectious microorganism. This is one reason why vaccine policymakers say you need to get "booster" shots because vaccine acquired immunity is only temporary and wears off, sometimes rather quickly.

The featured study also provides evidence of this fact, showing that a vaccine-induced immune response differs from the immune response when naturally encountering the B. pertussis organism. The FDA researchers further suggested that there are also differences in immune responses to whole cell DPT vaccine, which contains the whole B. pertussis bacteria, and acellular pertussis vaccine, which contains lower levels of toxins and uses purified antigens. They said "Vaccination with wP [whole cell pertussis vaccine] and previous infection induced a more rapid clearance compared with naïve and aP[acelullar pertussis[-vaccinated animals."

As reported by Medical Daily:7

"The researchers also found something revealing when they looked at the specific immune response of each group of monkeys. 'Although all vaccinated and previously infected animals had robust serum antibody responses, we found key differences in T-cell immunity,' the authors wrote in PNAS.

Specifically, previously infected animals and whole-cell-vaccinated animals both exhibited the same kind of boost in immune response while the acellular pertussis vaccination elicited a response that was slightly different. 'The observation that acellular pertussis, which induces an immune response mismatched to that induced by natural infection, fails to prevent colonization or transmission, provides a plausible explanation for the resurgence of pertussis...'"

Although the FDA researchers say they found differences between immune responses to the whole cell DPT vaccine acellular DTaP vaccine, they also admit that "neither vaccine was able to prevent colonization as well as immunity from a previous infection" and that "relative protection afforded by Th17 or Th1 responses in vaccinated or convalescent baboons or humans is not known."

Bottom line: there are huge gaps in scientific knowledge about both B. pertussis vaccination and B. pertussis infections.

Which Is More Ideal—Permanent or Temporary Immunity?

To learn more, I urge you to listen to the following video, in which Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), discusses the concept of herd immunity. In it, she brings up some very important questions that need to be seriously considered and answered through rigorous scientific investigation—investigation that has so far been largely ignored:

"In most cases natural exposure to disease would give you a longer lasting more robust qualitatively superior immunity because it gives you both cell mediated immunity and humoral immunity... The fact that manmade vaccines cannot replicate the body's natural experience with the disease is one of the key points of contention between those who insist that mankind cannot live without mass use of multiple vaccines and those who believe that mankind's biological integrity will be severely compromised by their continued use.

The fact that manmade vaccines cannot replicate the body's natural experience with the disease is one of the key points of contention between those who insist that mankind cannot live without mass use of multiple vaccines and those who believe that mankind's biological integrity will be severely compromised by their continued use.

... [I]s it better to protect children against infectious disease early in life through temporary immunity from a vaccine, or are they better off contracting certain contagious infections in childhood and attaining permanent immunity? Do vaccine complications ultimately cause more chronic illness and death than infectious diseases do? These questions essentially pit trust in human intervention against trust in nature and the natural order, which existed long before vaccines were created by man."



Download Interview Transcript

What We Don't Understand Can Hurt Us

My main point of contention with those who insist that vaccines are the best answer for disease prevention, without regard for constitutional differences between people, is that the science is still grossly lacking when it comes to safety. We simply do not know if vaccination is an ideal choice for all people, all the time—even though that's what public health officials and others promoting one-size-fits all mandatory vaccination policies would like you to believe. The evidence weighs rather heavily against such a blanket position, in my opinion.

Take the recent news of healthy teenagers dying following flu vaccination for example. In January of this year, a 14-year old Carly Christenson passed away from complications from influenza type-A, despite being vaccinated against the flu.8


Most recently, healthy 19-year old Chandler Webb became violently ill the day after receiving a flu shot—the first flu shot he had ever received.9, 10 His symptoms included violent shaking, headache and vomiting. He was hospitalized with encephalitis (brain inflammation). As the swelling of his brain progressed, Chandler's doctors frantically tested him for various infectious diseases and treated him with broad spectrum antibiotics. Apparently, they did not think to consider whether he'd been recently vaccinated. His brain became so inflamed that doctors told his mother the massive swelling crushed his brain stem. He died 28 days after his first and last dose of influenza vaccine.

Chandler's mother wants to raise awareness about the potential of vaccines to cause serious complications like brain inflammation and is urging medical personnel to consider vaccine reactions when searching for potential causes and treating encephalitis and other possible vaccine-related health problems. In this case, the doctors are now claiming they were not able to confirm the cause of Chandler's death, and are declining to comment because they say they are legally prohibited from making any statements about the case.11

Main Take-Home Points and Limitations of the Latest Pertussis Vaccine Study

To recap, FDA researchers conducting the featured baboon study found that the whole cell pertussis vaccine (GSK's Infanrix DPT), the acellular pertussis vaccine (Sanofi's Daptacel DTaP), and natural pertussis infection all induced high antibody titers in infant baboons. High antibody titer after vaccination is currently the gold standard for proving that a vaccine confers "immunity" and inability to colonize or transmit infection.

However in this study, high B. pertussis antibody titers after vaccination did NOT correlate with immunity and inability to colonize or transmit B. pertussis infection to other baboons—effectively challenging the idea that high antibody titer following vaccination is evidence that vaccination will prevent infection in the vaccine recipient and the recipient will not be able to infect others. Furthermore, the study authors found that:

  • Baboons vaccinated with a whole cell pertussis vaccine (DPT) colonized B. pertussis upon direct challenge but cleared infection almost twice as fast as animals vaccinated with an acellular pertussis vaccine (DTaP)—which is the type used by American children since 1996. This suggests that children recently given DTaP vaccine, who are exposed to B. pertussis may be astymptomatic carriers and transmitters of the infection for a longer period of time compared to children who get the older, more reactive whole cell DPT vaccine and clear infection more quickly.
  • Previous B. pertussis infection prevented colonization with B. pertussis in baboons better than having received either whole cell pertussis (Infanrix) or acelullar pertussis vaccine (Daptacel). In short, natural immunity offered greater protection against the ability to become infected and transmit infection after exposure to B. pertussis than either of the two vaccines.

That said, the researchers acknowledged the baboon study had limitations and among them were the fact that:

  • Baboons are not humans and the study authors admitted that "relative protection afforded by Th17 and Th1 responses in vaccinated or convalescent baboons or humans is not known."
  • Only one type of whole cell DPT and one type of acellular DTaP vaccine was used in this study but there are many different kinds of DPT and DTaP containing different components. Considering the known variability of measured efficacy and effectiveness of DPT and DTaP vaccines in clinical studies, the FDA study conclusions can only be limited to those two specific DPT and DTaP vaccines.

The Illusion of Vaccine-Acquired Immunity

The concept of vaccine induced herd immunity is built on the assumption that vaccination does protect the vast majority of vaccinated persons in a population from becoming infected with and transmitting infection to others in the same way that naturally acquired immunity in a population protects acquisition and transmission of infection. The featured FDA research suggests this is not the case and offers a clue as to why whooping cough outbreaks have been occurring and spreading primarily within the vaccinated population. To quote NVIC's Barbara Loe Fisher:

"In my opinion, this study in infant baboons suggests that pertussis vaccine-acquired immunity has been an illusion. Although the vaccines may protect against severe B. pertussis clinical symptoms of the disease—such as paroxysmal coughing—they do not prevent colonization of B. pertussis bacteria and transmission of the infection to others.

In this study at least, recovery from previous B. pertussis infection was more effective in preventing colonization with B.pertussis upon direct challenge than either whole cell DPT (Infanrix) or acellular DTaP (Daptacel) and that suggests transmission of the infection to others after exposure to B pertussis would also be less likely when there is a history of naturally acquired immunity."

Main Take-Home Points and Limitations of the Latest Pertussis Vaccine Study

To recap, FDA researchers conducting the featured baboon study found that the whole cell pertussis vaccine (GSK's Infanrix DPT), the acellular pertussis vaccine (Sanofi's Daptacel DTaP), and natural pertussis infection all induced high antibody titers in infant baboons. High antibody titer after vaccination is currently the gold standard for proving that a vaccine confers "immunity" and inability to colonize or transmit infection.

However in this study, high B. pertussis antibody titers after vaccination did NOT correlate with immunity and inability to colonize or transmit B. pertussis infection to other baboons—effectively challenging the idea that high antibody titer following vaccination is evidence that vaccination will prevent infection in the vaccine recipient and the recipient will not be able to infect others. Furthermore, the study authors found that:

  • Baboons vaccinated with a whole cell pertussis vaccine (DPT) colonized B. pertussis upon direct challenge but cleared infection almost twice as fast as animals vaccinated with an acellular pertussis vaccine (DTaP)—which is the type used by American children since 1996. This suggests that children recently given DTaP vaccine, who are exposed to B. pertussis may be astymptomatic carriers and transmitters of the infection for a longer period of time compared to children who get the older, more reactive whole cell DPT vaccine and clear infection more quickly.
  • Previous B. pertussis infection prevented colonization with B. pertussis in baboons better than having received either whole cell pertussis (Infanrix) or acelullar pertussis vaccine (Daptacel). In short, natural immunity offered greater protection against the ability to become infected and transmit infection after exposure to B. pertussis than either of the two vaccines.

That said, the researchers acknowledged the baboon study had limitations and among them were the fact that:

  • Baboons are not humans and the study authors admitted that "relative protection afforded by Th17 and Th1 responses in vaccinated or convalescent baboons or humans is not known."
  • Only one type of whole cell DPT and one type of acellular DTaP vaccine was used in this study but there are many different kinds of DPT and DTaP containing different components. Considering the known variability of measured efficacy and effectiveness of DPT and DTaP vaccines in clinical studies, the FDA study conclusions can only be limited to those two specific DPT and DTaP vaccines.

The Illusion of Vaccine-Acquired Immunity

The concept of vaccine induced herd immunity is built on the assumption that vaccination does protect the vast majority of vaccinated persons in a population from becoming infected with and transmitting infection to others in the same way that naturally acquired immunity in a population protects acquisition and transmission of infection. The featured FDA research suggests this is not the case and offers a clue as to why whooping cough outbreaks have been occurring and spreading primarily within the vaccinated population. To quote NVIC's Barbara Loe Fisher:

"In my opinion, this study in infant baboons suggests that pertussis vaccine-acquired immunity has been an illusion. Although the vaccines may protect against severe B. pertussis clinical symptoms of the disease—such as paroxysmal coughing—they do not prevent colonization of B. pertussis bacteria and transmission of the infection to others.

In this study at least, recovery from previous B. pertussis infection was more effective in preventing colonization with B.pertussis upon direct challenge than either whole cell DPT (Infanrix) or acellular DTaP (Daptacel) and that suggests transmission of the infection to others after exposure to B pertussis would also be less likely when there is a history of naturally acquired immunity."

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