Pertussis: Yo-Yo Stats
Pertussis, popularly known as Whooping Cough, is an illness that ranges from mild to very dangerous. The levels of incidence seem to be a bit of a mystery. One department of the CDC claims that the vaccine is doing a great job of protecting us from death-dealing outbreaks of pertussis while another department of the same organization claims that pertussis is endemic in the United States. Follow me down the bureaucratic rabbit hole, as we try to discover the truth about The Cough!
From the CDC’s “What Would Happen If We Stopped Vaccinations? Pertussis”
Since the early 1980s, reported pertussis cases have been increasing, with peaks every 3-4 years; however, the number of reported cases remains much lower than levels seen in the pre-vaccine era.
Simple enough. The vaccine works. Right? Surely there would be more pertussis if we weren’t vaccinating all the babies. That is why we have to keep on vaccinating all the babies because this effective vaccine is the only thing that stands between us and disaster.
The CDC continues:
In the U.S., prior to pertussis immunization, between 150,000 and 260,000 cases of pertussis were reported each year, with up to 9,000 pertussis-related deaths.
That is utterly terrifying and a lot of deaths. But (are you surprised?) they don’t provide a date for this statistic. Could be anywhere from 1850 up to 1930 or so. I do wish the CDC believed in citations and references for us stupid parents! Couldn’t they at least tell us what year the vaccine was licensed so we could go look up the statistics for ourselves? Without references what we are being handed is scaremongering statistics that may or may not be relevant to current conditions. If the statistic of 9,000 deaths is from tenement dwellers in 1910 it isn’t exactly relevant to middle-class families in the 21st century, is it?
A bit more:
Pertussis cases occur throughout the world. If we stopped pertussis immunizations in the U.S., we would experience a massive resurgence of pertussis disease.
But wait a moment. They said that pertussis has been increasing in the U.S. since the early 1980s, despite vaccination. So we don’t have to wait for pertussis to come from anywhere else in the world. Whooping Cough is not an alien at the borders, it is a disagreeable cousin living down the block.
Are you beginning to have that “Twilight Zone” feeling? You haven’t seen anything yet! Here is the CDC in a press release pushing pertussis vaccination for adults:
Pertussis affects an estimated 600,000 adults every year, aged 20 to 64 years, and can result in weeks of coughing, cracked ribs from severe coughing spells, pneumonia, and other complications.
That is at least 3 times the peak number before vaccination? Of course the population has grown. And they are talking estimated and not reported. But this is not great evidence for the effectiveness of the vaccine, is it?
But it gets better. This is what the CDC tells doctors about why the new vaccine is needed:
Pertussis, an acute, infectious cough illness, remains endemic in the United States despite routine childhood pertussis vaccination for more than half a century and high coverage levels in children for more than a decade¹
Translation: vaccinating babies hasn’t worked.
Let’s sum up the two positions:
To Parents of Babies: Vaccinate your baby or pertussis will “come back”, and we’ll see 200,000 cases a year once again.
To the Press, Physicians and Teens: Whew! Aren’t you glad we figured out how to make a vaccine for older children and adults because we have over 600,000 cases a year, and pertussis has “remained endemic” no matter how many babies we vaccinated with a whopping 5 shot series of an extremely reactive vaccine.
Reassuring, isn’t it, to know that the Centers for Disease Control is in control of their numbers and never the twain shall meet.
Next time: Mumps, or maybe chickenpox…
(1) Preventing Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis Among Adolescents: Use of Tetanus Toxoid, Reduced Diphtheria Toxoid and Acellular Pertussis Vaccines
Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)