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civil discussion on pertussis

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I am stealing a leaf from jenny's page and hoping to hold a civil discussion on pertussis.  


I am not pregnant or planning to become pregnant, nor do I live in an area that seems to have high pertussis outbreaks…and boy I am glad!!!  This must be one of the most complicated and difficult decisions a non-vaxxing mommy has to face, as pertussis is dangerous in newborns.


So, let's try to unravel this ball of yarn.


2 questions, and a bunch of points (some of which I may try to fill in later)


1.  What would you do about pertussis if you were pregnant in a high-risk area?


2.  if you were queen for a moment, what would you do differently with regards to the vaccine program to protect babies from pertussis?




  • is pertussis really higher, where, and why?  Is it being diagnosed more?
  • How can we protect babies without vaccines?
  • do you think the vaccine program should return to a more effective vaccine, but one with more complications (whole cell).  I think I know the answer, but am asking anyways.  More boosters?  What?  Do non-vaxxers even get a say?
  • I remember reading that the current way we vaccinate for pertussis is placing the burden for the disease on infants, who are the least equipped to deal with it.  anyone have any thoughts or links?  
post #2 of 8

We have had outbreaks in both our neighboring towns. The most recent one was while I was pregnant earlier this summer. Mostly we just stayed home or out of areas with crowds of children. She was born in July and I think it was waining by then but we decided to only go out for doctors until she was around 6 to 8 weeks.


She had a cough at one point but it did not sound at all like pertussis is described. We opted for antibiotics because she had been quite congested since birth and it cleared up right away. 



My husband was very sick as a boy from what we believe to be reactions to the original vax, so no not at all interested in a return to it.


My preference for control of diseases is quarentine and proper hygeine to prevent the spread of them, but also clean water, nutritious foods, etc...


Also dispelling the idea that if you or your child have been vaxxed means you can't be sick or spread disease would be helpful.


I've mention before about the webmd article connecting pertussis infant deaths to aspirin use. Really wish i could find it, but i would like to see more research on that. Were the parents using aspirin or was it just a theory. If they were using it was Reye's ruled out as cause of death?

post #3 of 8

Yeah - pertussis is one of the VAD's that concerns me the most.


Ill take a stab at your questions though!


1)   What would you do about pertussis if you were pregnant in a high-risk area?


I was pregnant in a high risk area fairly recently (I have an 8 month old) and it has been going around my area for a while now). I chose to do nothing. The DTaP is one of those vaccines I wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole for a variety of reasons. I am well versed on treating WC with SA and homeopathics however. I just pray I will never need that knowledge!


2)  if you were queen for a moment, what would you do differently with regards to the vaccine program to protect babies from pertussis?


I would invent a vaccine that is safe. However since I am of the belief that most vaccines carry risks I am not comfortable taking, I would doubt this could be done. I certainly would not revert back to a more effective vaccine with more side effects. How can we protect babies without vaccines? Good question. I think it really comes down to treating it properly across all age groups and getting people to keep their kids home when they are sick. (good luck I know!)

post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post


I wrote a long post, and then my machine glitched!!  ugh.  Ok - take 2.



1.  What would you do about pertussis if you were pregnant in a high-risk area?

I would not vaccinate a baby.  Most infants who succumb to pertussis are very young (too young to be immunised), so vaccination from a mortality standpoint doesn't hold. I believe the first pertussis shot acts as a primer, so it is not until the baby is 4 months old that any real (albeit weak - it is not the best vaccine) efficacy kicks in.  


I might (if I research it, and there was a true epidemic and not a hyped-up one) get my titres for pertussis tested pre-conception.  If I was not immune to pertussis, I might get a booster pre-conception.  I would then go on to get pregnant, have the baby, nurse the baby (hopefully baby would get some protection via breastmilk) and keep the baby out of circulation until the baby was old enough that whooping cough was more an exhausting PITA than life-threatenning.  I know not everyone can do this, but it is what I would do.  I would also like to take this moment to plug decent maternity leave - so people can keep their baby out of circulation if they feel that is the healthiest move.



2.  if you were queen for a moment, what would you do differently with regards to the vaccine program to protect babies from pertussis?


Make a more effective vaccine - which I probably would not take if I thought it was unsafe, but still.  If I were a vaxxer, I would want to know the vaccine I was risking had a decent efficacy.


I know pertussis is unpleasant in teens and adults, but honestly, I wonder if teens and adults being allowed to get pertussis might be wiser?  How long does the immunity from the disease last?  Can it be passed through breastmilk?  It might be better than this crappy, not very long-lived immunity from vaccine we have floating around now.


post #5 of 8

Ah, pertussis. The posters went up at DD's school in November 2011 about an outbreak there. Rates in my area have been high, around 90 per 100,000 despite 95% uptake in the childhood series. It's endemic around here. Then Dr Lan's study came out in, publicised in March, about how 86% of samples from the current outbreak were of the variant strains that evaded vaccine protection and resulted in increased virulence. 


Okay, I just checked the most recent data for my metropolitan area. The rate is now 133 per 100,000.


1. I am glad we're done with TTCing because it is a tough decision to make. In our area, there's been a campaign on for adult boosters, but I don't think, based on reported cases, that it seems to be having the impact health officials were hoping for. Personally, I would not vaccinate myself or partner and every relative that enters my house but would strive for old fashioned cocooning and keeping anyone with the slightest sign of a cold away. Two week-old babies do not need to be in the shopping centre in the midst of a pertussis outbreak or flu season.


2. I would design a better vaccine. Look, part of this is evolution and adaptation, right. The bacteria have evolved in response to the current vaccines in use. Mooi says this. So does King. I guess one of the variables is how quickly the bacteria changes. Now, King mentions it has taken 60 years to get to the point we're at now. However, Lan notes that the variant prn2 and ptxP3 only accounted for 31% of samples between 2000 and 2007, yet now it's increased almost threefold from 2008 to 2010. Now, aside from creating a new vaccine (yeah, that's quick and easy, LOL), I'd look at the matter of adapting bacteria and treat it like antibiotic resistance. Save the vaccine for the ones who will have the highest mortality from infection. Stop insisting on boosters for every single person and their dog if it causes the bacteria to change quicker and for the benefit the vaccine does provide to lose effectiveness. Mooi and others wrote about how the pertussis bacteria has altered itself to favour older, previously vaccinated hosts. This is adaptable, opportunistic bacteria. Save the vaccine coverage for the ones who have the most to lose by its effectiveness waning even more.


It's difficult, really. Health officials have to also recognise that their actions have contributed to where we are today, it's not just a few non-vaxers. We did have pertussis in this house. As often repeated, my up-to-date hubby with the chronic nagging cough turned out to have pertussis and then passed it on to unvaxed DS (23 months old at the time). SA made a huge difference in DS's case, but it still wasn't pleasant, that's for sure. 

post #6 of 8
1.  What would you do about pertussis if you were pregnant in a high-risk area?

Oh boy. Well, I think it's madness to vaccinate pregnant women, and I don't want to expose my other family members to a chemical cocktail either, so we'd probably do the same thing we did last time I was pregnant in a high risk area, about 2 years ago. We'd avoid obviously sick people, practice good hygiene and handwashing, avoid taking a newborn out in public unnecessarily, and just really hope no yucky bugs snuck through. I'd also be comforted by the numbers that show even in an outbreak it's relatively unlikely we'd contract the illness at any given time.

2.  if you were queen for a moment, what would you do differently with regards to the vaccine program to protect babies from pertussis?

Good question, and I don't have a good answer, but... I think it's scary and problematic that the current vaccine program isn't doing a great job of protecting tiny people. Between quickly waning protection of the vaxxed and the failure to prevent transmission from individuals who may be experiencing infection with less obvious symptoms, it seems like this is really one case (as with cp but for different reasons) where any supposed benefit to the "herd" is dubious at best. I'd rather know who's sick so that I might avoid them, especially with a newborn who could not be fully vaccinated yet even if I'd opted to do so.
post #7 of 8

1. I not vaccinate.  I would breastfeed, and I would move heaven and earth to make sure my newborn was getting breastmilk (either mine or a donor's).  There is no question in my mind that full-term breastfeeding is essential to the development of a normal, healthy, immune system.  In fact, I'd hazard to say that the vast majority of deaths due to pertussis in children under the age of two have occurred in babies who are not exclusively breastfed. 


2.  On that note, if I were Queen, I'd give all parents the full, unvarnished facts regarding the efficacy of vaccinations vs. a healthy whole diet including breastmilk. I'd also amend the medical environment to ensure mamas who intend to breastfeed are not booby trapped and that maternity leaves are sufficient for mothers to establish breastfeeding so that they can meet their goals. 

I find the whole vaccine thing to be a bandaid solution to a bigger problem of inadequate breastfeeding support, rampant child poverty and the attendant poor nutrition, and the degradation of our food supply so that even people who try, cannot benefit completely from a healthy diet.

post #8 of 8

1.  I was pregnant in a relatively high risk area.  (DD born 4/25/12 in Oregon.  Since Oregon is between Washington and California, two places with outbreaks, there is a lot of concern in Oregon.)  I decided not to vaccinate my daughter for several reasons.  I was most concerned about pertussis when she was under 3 months and I felt the vaccine wouldn't even be effective until after the riskiest time had passed.  Since I didn't feel the vaccine would be very effective during the most critical time, I didn't want to risk any of the side effects of a vaccine that I felt was unhelpful.  I MIGHT have considered it if there was a Pertussis only vaccine, but didn't want to expose her to the and Diptheria/Tetanus part.  I hadn't even thought about getting vaccinated myself until she was born - I wish I would've given this more thought in advance.  We had planned a home birth, but had to transfer to the hospital, so I ended up with a lot of vax-pushing in the hospital that I didn't expect. (It was fun being THOSE people who planned a home birth, refused eye ointment, had issues with the Vit K, etc.. innocent.gif)  We chose a "baby friendly" hospital, so they were more understanding than most, but they were pretty heavy handed when it came to recommending that me and my husband get TDaP.  They had several different people come in and talk to us about vaccinating ourselves.  We decided that my husband would get vaccinated while we were at the hospital and I would get it later.  (I waited several weeks.  I thought it unwise for a brand new mother to get a vax while healing from a traumatic birth.  Recovery was hard enough without fever and sore muscles.  My husband was tired and sore for a few days, which was bad enough.)  I "nested" with her at home and allowed few visitors.  We didn't leave the house until she was 2 weeks, and that was for our midwife appointment.  We took her out in the Ergo after that, but only out in the fresh air and sunshine - no crowds or groups of people.  We kept her under the Ergo cover whenever anyone else was around.  We were pretty strict until she was 6 weeks, but very careful even after that for several months.  We don't have any other kids and my husband worked from home, so we had little contact with the general public.  We moved to the South temporarily when she was 4 months, and there isn't much Pertussis here. Plus, our ND said that it is worse in the NW during the winter and worse in the South during the summer because that is when people are holed up inside, so luckily, we were in both regions at the right time (NW is summer and South in winter.)

2. Normally, I like being asked this question because I'd love to be the Queen and make all the rules - I usually have lots of ideas about how I'd change things! biglaugh.gifHowever, this is so complicated, I don't know what I'd do.  I guess I'd start with making the Pertussis vax available without the Diptheria and Tetanus, so that this would at least be an option,  but I seem to remember my ND saying that the Diptheria part of the vaccine made the Pertussis part more effective, or something like that.  Can't remember exactly. . . And, of course, making a safe and effective Pertussis vaccine would be a grand idea. . . If that is even humanely possible.

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