A whopping increase in whooping cough without vaccination

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It is hardly news that some people are ardently anti-vaccine (for NO good reason). And it is intuitively obvious that when children don t get vaccinated their risk for contracting a given infection is higher.

But, thanks to a study published online in JAMA Pediatrics, we now have an idea of how high the risk really is. And it is surprisingly high.

A case-control study conducted by Jason Glanz, PhD, and colleagues of Kaiser Permanente in Colorado examined the associations between undervaccination and pertussis in children 3 to 36 months old, by analyzing data from eight managed care organizations in the Vaccine Safety Datalink between 2004 and 2010.

The study revealed that children, aged 3 to 36 months who missed doses of the diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine had an increased chance of getting pertussis (whooping cough), and that this increase rose dramatically depending on how many of the recommended four doses were missed.

This is crystal clear from the data below:

  • One missed dose: 2-fold increase
  • Two missed doses: 3-fold increase
  • Three missed doses: 18-fold increase
  • Four missed doses: 28-fold increase

According to Glanz, Not surprisingly, we found that the risk of pertussis greatly increased as undervaccination with DTaP vaccine increased.

And researchers believe this trend is putting children and communities at heightened risk of serious infectious diseases -- as evidenced by recent outbreaks of pertussis across the U.S.

ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom says, it is patently obvious that people are refusing to vaccinate their kids for all the wrong reasons, and this is coming back to bite them. It is truly infuriating to realize that adherence to foolish beliefs is taking its toll on kids. Let s give doctor Andrew Wakefield a shout-down for his fraudulent contribution to this misguided mentality. Dr. Bloom was recently interviewed about the undue (pathetic, actually) influence of celebrities on medical practices. You can watch the interview here.

And on a related note, a mumps outbreak traced to a bar in Belmar, New Jersey has sickened both employees and patrons, causing a temporary closure. While it is currently unknown as to the vaccination status of those sickened, the mumps vaccine part of the MMR routinely given to kids has reduced the toll of mumps by 99% since its first approval in the 1960s. While mumps is not life-threatening, it is quite uncomfortable and can be associated with permanent consequences, including (rarely) sterility in males.

ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross notes, Given the highly protective nature of the mumps vaccine, it is likely that most of the victims were inadequately vaccinated. The epidemiologists will let us know when they have completed their investigation. Which, naturally, reminds me to remind you, from all of us here at ACSH, to get your flu shot! It s not too early, and unlike most of the diseases we discuss that are vaccine-preventable, influenza can kill you. Seniors should seek the 4x dose version from their doctors or the many, many pharmacies that give flu shots these days.