Avoid the whooping cough vaccine and you are putting you kids at risk

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The conclusion of a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics should come as no surprise to anyone who has been reading our Dispatch letter. When parents fail to have their children vaccinated with the TDaP vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, or whooping cough) they are putting their kids at risk for preventable and possibly lethal infection. (The a means acellular a newer version of the pertussis vaccine).

The study was designed to examine the association between underuse of this vaccine and the incidence of pertussis in kids aged 3 to 36 months. And the results speak for themselves.

Lead author Jason M. Glanz, PhD of the Department of Epidemiology, Colorado School of Public Health, working with other public health experts from eight managed care organizations between 2004 and 2010, reported some rather startling findings.

The paper examined the association of pertussis with undervaccination missing 3 or 4 of the 4 recommended TDaP vaccines. Children within this age group who missed 3 vaccines had a 19-fold increased risk of contracting whooping cough, and this number rose to 28-fold for children who missed all four. Furthermore, of the 72 documented cases of whooping cough, 12 children (17 percent) required hospitalization. This is no laughing matter.

ACSH s Dr. Gil Ross says, In adults, whooping cough is a real nuisance, with severe hooping -type, annoying, sleep-depriving coughing lasting up to a month. However, in newborns and infants, it can be a killer. During recent epidemics of pertussis in California a state with pockets of vaccine denial and an easy-out exemption policy for vaccinations between 10 and 20 infants died in hospital each year from the infection. Further, the vaccine is safe and effective: there is just no reason in the world for parents to deny this protection to their kids.