Here is a chart from the CDC on pertussis deaths 2001-2003 http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5450a3.htm
The page says there were 56 pertussis deaths in infants, 51 of them in infants under 6 months. That's an average of 17 infant deaths per year for three years.
We don't seem to be approaching that point right now. So why the alarm? Yes, it is tragic - every time pertussis is on a high - some small infants will die. But this has always been the case. Think of it. Pertussis vaccination has been in wide use since the 1940s. Adults and teens were not given boosters for 70 years. How can an increase in cases be the result of teens and adults not being vaccinated? Rubbish. There is no increase in pertussis deaths this year. But there is a giant increase in the diagnosing
of teens and adults with the disease.
Secondly, according to the DAPTACEL insert:
|The potency of the acellular pertussis vaccine components is determined by the antibody response of immunized mice to detoxified PT...
That's PT for 'pertussis toxin', not the pertussis bacteria. They separate a few components of the b. pertussis bacteria and 'clean' them - but since the insert admits that the bacteria... "produces a variety
of biologically active components, though their role in either the pathogenesis of, or immunity to, pertussis has not been clearly defined.", the entire idea that this vaccination stops the spread of disease is dubious at best. In other words, if they don't know what component of the bacteria cause illness or immunity, how much do you trust the vaccine to give you immunity? The only thing we really know is that it is effective against the PT (pertussis toxin), so if you are carrying the bacteria, you are a whole less likely to know about it.
So yes, the nyt is right about one thing: symptomatic pertussis is more common in the unvaccinated because the vaccine does protect against the pertussis toxin(PT) which causes the symptoms.