A Prince and a Plea

I’ve had some mixed emotions these past few days.  As the world rejoices in the arrival of a new prince, I’m thinking about all the babies born around the world that will suffer and die from diseases that could have been prevented.

McCafferyPertussisWhile the overwhelming majority of these deaths occur in countries far from my own, that doesn’t make it any more acceptable to me.  And what many people here in the U.S. don’t realize, is that even in countries where one may not expect to see vaccine preventable diseases, we’re still suffering with outbreaks of diseases like pertussis and measles.

According to the Wall Street Journal, measles has taken a toll on a densely populated Orthodox Jewish community in NY earlier this year.  After a traveler returned from London, the disease began spreading among pockets of unvaccinated in the community.  To date, as many as a 58 people have been infected in that area, including a child who suffered with pneumonia and two pregnant women, one who went on to have a miscarriage after being hospitalized with measles.

With measles on the rise there have already been 118 cases reported in the U.S. so far this year.  Another 25,000 people in Pakistan have contracted measles this year, and 154 of  those cases claimed the lives of children.  And in Europe, we have seen as many as 8,500 measles cases over the past year.  Considering the fact that measles vaccine is highly effective and children who aren’t vaccinated against measles are 35 times more likely than immunized children to catch the disease, it’s easy to see the unfortunate impact of missed immunizations.

My plea for vaccination extends to other diseases as well.  For instance, plenty of people believe they are appropriately vaccinated.  But have they received their adult Tdap boosters and do they know that this may help reduce the spread of pertussis, especially among infants who’ve not yet received their full course of immunizations?

This week, a child by the name of Kaliah, should have been celebrating her 2nd birthday with her family.  Instead, Kaliah was a victim of pertussis, dying at just 27 days old.  You can read her heartbreaking story on the Shot By Shot website, along with numerous other personal accounts of vaccine preventable diseases.

And the McCaffery’s, a grieving family in Australia, still continue to educate parents about the need for Tdap boosters in an effort to protect newborn babies from pertussis.  After they lost their child from pertussis during an outbreak in Australia, the government initiated a program to offered free Tdap boosters to parents.  Now that there has been a reduction in cases, the government is eliminating their program.  Of course, the McCaffery’s are worried that this action will simply lead to more tragic deaths.  They spoke out earlier this week on a program called The Project and they continue to encourage people to sign a petition that will highlight the importance of the Tdap booster and to once again make it easy and affordable for citizens to receive it.

With measles and pertussis concerns so prevalent, along with the much publicized arrival of a new prince, I can’t help but worry for the health of the royal baby.  Unfortunately, good looks, good fortune and even royalty won’t prevent a child from contracting diseases like measles or pertussis if they are not adequately protected.  

This week, as the media continues to share stories and images of the joyous arrival of a new prince, let’s take this opportunity to talk among our social circles about how vaccines can protect our precious babies.  Consider it a plea for the many princes and princesses born day after day to everday people.

This is what everyone needs to know about pertussis:

Pertussis is spread from person to person through the air by infectious droplets; it is a highly contagious infection and antibiotics do not cure whooping cough, but they can help prevent the spread of the disease if administered in time.

There is a vaccine that can help reduce the incidence of pertussis.  For infants it is called DTaP and the booster vaccine for adolescents and adults is referred to as Tdap.  The vaccine combines protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (which is also commonly referred to as whooping cough).

It is recommended that infants receive a three shot series of DTaP vaccine, at 2 months, 4 months and 6 months in order to build up high levels of protection, and then booster shots at 15 through 18 months and at 4 through 6 years to maintain that protection.  Since immunity from the vaccine does wane over time, it is recommended that adolescents and adults receive Tdap booster shots at various times throughout their life.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that pregnant women receive a Tdap booster during each pregnancy.  After receiving a whooping cough vaccine, a pregnant woman will create protective antibodies and pass some of them to her baby before birth. The protective antibodies are highest about 2 weeks after getting the vaccine, so it’s advised that pregnant women get vaccinated during your 27th through 36th week, to give the baby the most protection when he is born.  These antibodies can provide babies with some short-term protection against whooping cough in early life and also protect a child from some of the more serious complications that come along with whooping cough.

According to the CDC, children who haven’t received DTaP vaccines are at least 8 times more likely to get pertussis than children who received all 5 recommended doses of DTaP.

  1. July 26, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    The video of McCaffery’s sharing their story about how preventable their loss of their baby daughter was, is heartbreaking. When you take into account that 1.5 million children die each year of diseases that could have been prevented by a vaccine, it’s a staggering concept. That’s a child dying EVERY 20 SECONDS. That’s a mother’s prince and princess we are talking about.

    Thank you Shot of Prevention for sharing the important information that can save the life of our own little princes and princesses.


  2. Laura Condon
    July 28, 2013 at 8:13 am

    Evidence show Tdap boosters NOT effective. “ACIP’s pertussis work group is now recommending against a second dose of Tdap for adolescents and adults, instead calling for using the tetanus and diphtheria toxoids (Td) vaccine as a booster because the cost-benefit ratio seen with use of a second Tdap dose is poor.”


  3. Laura Condon
    July 28, 2013 at 8:17 am

    The whooping cough vaccine is NOT effective at preventing whooping cough in newborns and around the world this bad vaccination practice is being halted.


  4. Laura Condon
    July 28, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Great research showing DISEASE SHIFT from mass vaccine use. Putting newborn infants at greater risk with higher incidence of pertussis. Shouldn’t this known disease shift to a more vulnerable population be considered unethical?? And immoral???

    “Pertussis is a worldwide, cyclic illness, which was concentrated in children under 5 years of age during the pre-vaccine era. After widespread use of whole cell pertussis, tetanus, and diphtheria toxoid vaccines for infants starting in the United States in 1948, the incidence of pertussis decreased noticeably and infants under 6 months and adolescents became the most susceptible age groups.”


  5. July 28, 2013 at 8:38 am

    @Laura – why do you trust an organization like the AAFP when they make “recommendations” or statements you support, when they also are huge supporters of the vaccine program in general (including a big shout-out to Gardisil & the Rotavirus vaccines)?


  6. July 28, 2013 at 8:48 am

    @Laura – the Australian story doesn’t say what you think it says & recently, that program is being restarted, based on an increased number of pertussis infections that could be prevented.


  7. Chris
    July 28, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Ms. Condon, you seem to provide a one sided argument. What you need to do is propose a viable and verified way to protect babies from pertussis. What is your tried and true way to protect newborns from pertussis? Provide documentation from a reputable researcher that it actually works.


  8. Chris
    July 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    By the way, Ms. Condon, have you figured out how to find the following citations:

    Pediatrics. 2009 Jun;123(6):1446-51.
    Parental refusal of pertussis vaccination is associated with an increased risk of pertussis infection in children.

    Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Dec 15;168(12):1389-96. Epub 2008 Oct 15.
    Geographic clustering of nonmedical exemptions to school immunization requirements and associations with geographic clustering of pertussis.

    If you can’t, just go to your local library and they will direct to the sources. But these are the type of verifiable documentation I would like you to provide when you tell us your tried and true way to prevent pertussis in infants.


  9. Daniel
    July 28, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Laura Condon is right. The pertussis vaccine often doesn’t protect the person vaccinated, and doesn’t prevent transmission. Since that is the case, people must accept the fact that there is no tried and true way to prevent pertussis in newborns, except old-fashioned quarantine.


  10. Chris
    July 28, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Daniel, then provide citations that show the opposite of what I just posted. And do explain how you will quarantine a baby and mother for a full year, which includes no contact with the father, other children and leaving the house to see a doctor.

    Oh, and hello again, Ms. Parker. You never did explain that other part the last few times you tried to explain that as a solution. You also never provided evidence it worked.


  11. July 28, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    @Daniel (Ms. Parker) – if the vaccine was “ineffective” then why aren’t we seeing Pertussis at the pre-vaccine rate? In fact, despite the limitations of the vaccine, rates of pertussis are still well below pre-vaccine levels…..


    Although many vaccines are “vaccinate & go” without the need to worry about boosters later in life, pertussis isn’t one of them – it is still better to get up to date vaccinations than take the chance with the actual disease – since not a single anti-vax individual who has posted here has been able to offer any evidence whatsoever that vaccines are more dangerous or have more serious adverse reactions than the diseases they prevent….


  12. July 28, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    @Chris – I read the referenced study in there as well, very good information that discusses why Pertussis vaccination is important:

    Gangarosa EJ, et al. Impact of anti-vaccine movements on pertussis control: the untold story. Lancet 1998;351:356-61.


  13. Chris
    July 28, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Ah, yes. The paper that I gave earlier that Ms. Condon did not care for because of its age, but actually missed the 2008 and 2009 papers I listed after (and here again in Comment #8):
    Impact of anti-vaccine movements on pertussis control: the untold story

    The one reason I like it is that it compares countries side by side that had different pertussis policies. Plus it is an antidote to the oft cited lie that Japan stopped vaccinated and SIDS stopped… it didn’t, it was just more infants died from pertussis.


  14. dingo199
    August 5, 2013 at 5:36 am

    Recent BMJ study looked at pertussis vaccine effectiveness in adolescents:

    Moderately effective. (Odds ratio compared with matched controls of 0.36)

    (NB: In antivax speak this no doubt equates to totally “ineffective”, since they view anything without 100% efficacy and safety as being utterly useless)


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