Whooping Cough Vaccine Not as Effective as Thought and Spreads Through Those Vaccinated

Children Vaccination

Story at-a-glance -

  • Twenty-six students at a Florida preschool contracted whooping cough even though the majority of the students were fully vaccinated against it, according to the CDC’s recommended schedule
  • In one particular classroom in which all students had received the pertussis vaccine, 50 percent still developed whopping cough
  • Health officials in the area expressed concern that the vaccine is not protecting children as it should be and suggested its protection lasts only two to three years

By Dr. Mercola

When making the choice to receive a vaccination, for yourself or your child, you probably do so under the assumption that the vaccine is going to protect you from that particular disease.

Most do not even question this assumption, because they think, well, why would the medical establishment give out, and U.S. health officials promote, vaccines that don't work?

This is, however, a question deserving of an answer, especially in light of increasing evidence that some vaccines do not work as intended or advertised.

This is particularly the case with the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine, which is typically given to children as part of the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis) shot.

Up to Half of Vaccinated Preschoolers Were Infected With Whooping Cough

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently featured an article in Emerging Infectious Diseases that highlighted the transmission of whooping cough among vaccinated children.1

The outbreak occurred at a Tallahassee, Florida preschool in 2013. Twenty-six students between the ages of 1 and 5 contracted whooping cough, as did two staff and 11 family members. The majority of the students were fully vaccinated against whooping cough according to the CDC's recommended schedule.

In one particular classroom in which all students had received the pertussis vaccine, 50 percent still developed whopping cough. Cases of whooping cough have been on the rise, increasing six-fold from 2000 to 2012. Some believe the increase may be due to vaccine failure.

In fact, the highest rates of infection in the preschool outbreak occurred in the 3-year-old age group, which supports the notion of waning immunity.

The DTaP vaccine is typically given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age, again between 15 and 18 months, and a booster is recommended between ages 4 and 6.2 The authors noted:3

"This outbreak raises concerns about vaccine effectiveness in this preschool age group and reinforces the idea that recent pertussis vaccination should not dissuade physicians from diagnosing, testing or treating persons with compatible illness for pertussis.

… Reports of genetic changes in circulating B. pertussis have raised concern that this organism could be adapting to vaccine-induced immunity …

Given these reports and the increased levels of circulation of pertussis among older age groups with documented waning of immunity, further monitoring of acellular pertussis vaccine performance in preschool-age children is necessary to determine if this outbreak was an isolated finding or possibly identification of an emerging epidemiologic trend."

California Whooping Cough Outbreak Also Occurred Among a Highly Vaccinated Community

In 2014, a whooping cough outbreak spread through Elk Grove, California, a community in which all but 80 of the suburb's 4,500 kindergartners were vaccinated. Even still, the county had rates of whooping cough that were up to five times higher than surrounding areas.4

Health officials in the area expressed concern that the vaccine is not protecting children as it should be and suggested its protection lasts only two to three years.

Dr. Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis Children's Hospital, told the Sacramento Bee, "This newer version of the vaccine probably has a shorter period of protection. I think that is a scientifically proven point."5

Even though U.S. children who follow the CDC's recommended vaccine schedule get five doses of the pertussis vaccine by age 6, it may only be most effective for the first year. Dr. Blumberg stated that every year following, "the protection rate drops 10 percent or so."

A New England Journal of Medicine study actually found that after the fifth dose of DTaP, the odds of acquiring whooping cough increased by an average of 42 percent per year.6

Even Dr. Mark Sawyer, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Diego, and a member of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention immunization practices committee, said in the Sacramento Bee:7

"It's not correct to only pin (the pertussis outbreak) on the people who are unvaccinated … The effectiveness of the vaccine is a huge part of this. People who are immunized do still get pertussis."

Get my FREE 20 health resolutions for 2020 hereGet my FREE 20 health resolutions for 2020 here

90 Percent of Whooping Cough Cases in Vermont Occurred Among Vaccinated Children

Yet another example of the pertussis vaccine's questionable effectiveness came from a wave of cases that occurred in Vermont in 2012.

Of nearly 200 cases reported in Vermont children, 90 percent had received at least one dose of the pertussis vaccine, and most had received five or six doses.8

Even shortly after vaccination, the DTaP shot may have an efficacy rate of only 80 percent to 90 percent, which may drop to 70 percent within two to five years.

The Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis) vaccine, which is recommended as a booster for adolescents and adults, is even less effective, with CDC data showing it only protects 7 out of 10 people.9 Vermont Department of Health epidemiologist Patsy Kelso told VT Digger:10

"The current thinking is that the pertussis vaccination is just not as effective as we'd like it to be … Even if you're vaccinated, it's efficacy wanes after a few years. Although no vaccine is perfect, this vaccine is less good than we'd like."

The vaccine is clearly ineffective, and it's not just failing to prevent whooping cough in the U.S. In the U.K., researchers similarly revealed that nearly 20 percent of fully vaccinated children still contracted whooping cough.11

Four Reasons Why Pertussis Epidemics Persist

With high vaccination rates, many people would assume (and the government would lead you to believe) that disease outbreaks would be prevented. This clearly is not the case with pertussis, and Peggy O'Mara, the former editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine, shared four reasons why.12

1. Pertussis Is Cyclical by Nature

Whooping cough is a cyclical disease and natural increases tend to occur every four to five years no matter how high the vaccination rates are in a population. According to the CDC:13

"Since the early 1980s, there has been an overall trend of an increase in reported pertussis cases. Pertussis is naturally cyclic in nature, with peaks in disease every three to five years.

But for the past 20 to 30 years, we've seen the peaks getting higher and overall case counts going up.

There are several reasons that help explain why we're seeing more cases as of late. These include: increased awareness, improved diagnostic tests, better reporting, more circulation of the bacteria, and waning immunity."

2. DTaP Vaccine Immunity Wanes Over Time

The acellular pertussis vaccine loses much of its effectiveness after just three years. This is much faster than previously believed and could also help explain the recent whooping cough outbreaks in the U.S. The CDC acknowledges that waning immunity is common with the DTaP vaccine: 14

"When it comes to waning immunity, it seems that the acellular pertussis vaccine (DTaP) we use now may not protect for as long as the whole cell vaccine (DTP) we used to use."

3. Vaccinated Individuals May Still Spread Pertussis

The Tdap booster vaccine is recommended for children aged 7 years and older, as well as adults, parents and close family members of babies under age 2 months, who are too young to receive a pertussis-containing vaccine themselves.

Known as "cocooning," this controversial practice is being promoted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and government health officials as a way of protecting babies from whooping cough by vaccinating their parents and other adult caregivers. However, there is little evidence to show that this works! In fact, research shows that vaccinated individuals may still transmit the disease.

In an animal study, while acellular-pertussis-vaccinated baby baboons did not develop serious clinical disease symptoms — such as loss of appetite and cough — when they were exposed to the B. pertussis bacteria, they still colonized B. pertussis in their throats and were capable of transmitting the infection to other baboons.15

In that same study, the baby baboons that received whole cell DPT vaccine also were able to transmit pertussis infection to other baboons without showing typical pertussis symptoms, but were infectious for a shorter period of time that those which had received acellular pertussis vaccine.

The study's lead author Tod Merkel also explained that when exposed to B. pertussis after recently getting vaccinated, you could be an asymptomatic carrier and infect others, saying:16"When you're newly vaccinated, you are an asymptomatic carrier, which is good for you, but not for the population."

The Tdap shot is also recommended for pregnant women, even though there is a lack of credible scientific evidence to demonstrate safety and effectiveness.17

4. Tdap Booster Is Only Moderately Effective

Research has shown that the booster shot is only 53 percent to 64 percent effective, which the researchers described as "moderate."18 There is also concern that the mass use of existing pertussis vaccines has already led to vaccine-resistant strains that are still evolving and could become much more virulent.

The new mutation, which some researchers are calling "P3," is a strain that produces more pertussis toxin (PT). Another reason why whooping cough cannot be entirely eradicated is the fact that there's another Bordetella organism — parapertussis — that can also cause whooping cough. The symptoms of B. parapertussis, while often milder, can look exactly like B. pertussis, but doctors rarely recognize or test for parapertussis. And, there is NO vaccine for it.

Are There Risks to Receiving the DTaP Shot?

Whooping cough can be serious, especially for newborns and babies, whose tiny airways can become clogged with the sticky mucus produced by the toxins in B. pertussis bacteria. The majority of 10 to 20 pertussis deaths that occur in the U.S. every year are in infants under age 3 months.19

However, the vast majority of children and adults get through a bout with whooping cough without complications, and it is important for them to get proper nutrition, hydration and rest to support the healing process that sometimes can take as long as two to three months before coughing ends.

Similarly, while some children and adults get pertussis-containing vaccines and experience no complications, others do suffer serious reactions, injuries, or have died after getting vaccinated. It is well known, for instance, that whole cell and acellular pertussis vaccine in DPT and DTaP/Tdap vaccines may cause brain inflammation and permanent brain damage in both children and adults.

Nearly 3,000 cases of pertussis-vaccine-induced brain injury and death have been awarded compensation in the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) under the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act.20 As reported by Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center:

"A 2013 published study evaluating reports of acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) following vaccination in the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) and in a European vaccine reaction reporting system found … pertussis containing DTaP was among the vaccines most frequently associated with brain inflammation in children between birth and age 5."

15 Natural Remedies for Whooping Cough

If you think you or your child have whooping cough, you should seek medical attention right away, especially if it occurs in an infant or young child. However, there are some natural remedies  that may help someone with whooping cough move more comfortably through the healing process (and certainly won't hurt). Peggy O'Mara suggested the following options:21

Avoid mucus-forming foods, such as milk, flour and eggs, as well as sugar Eat light foods such as vegetables, soups with garlic and herbal teas Homeopathic remedies for pertussis include Coccus cacti and the nosode, Pertussin.

Drosera is recommended for coughing fits followed by gagging, retching or vomiting.

Cuprum may be indicated for coughing fits followed by gasping for air, difficulty breathing or that end in exhaustion
Wild cherry bark lozenges may soothe your throat Keep well hydrated Try up to 5,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily for seven days
Keep your room and home well ventilated and free of smoke Use a warm air humidifier with essential oils.

Try basil, cyprus, marjoram, thyme, wintergreen, tea tree, camphor, lavender, chamomile, peppermint or eucalyptus)
Massage essential oils with a carrier oil (like coconut oil) into the patient's chest or back
Acupuncture may be beneficial (and its effects for whooping cough are recognized by the World Health Organization) Rest and avoid exertion Arrange pillows so the patient can be more upright while sleeping
Boil fresh ginger root in water for 20 minutes, then add the water to a foot bath to soak feet for up to 20 minutes Heat a pan of water to just boiling, then add a few drops of oil of thyme.

Have the patient breathe in the steam from the pan (cover his or her head with a towel, being careful to avoid getting burned)
Keep skin hydrated by massaging in coconut oil daily