Some of the fear-based commercials I dislike more than any other are those by Jennifer Lopez as she frightens parents into believing they must give the series of pertussis vaccines to their infant or risk the death of their child. If all I knew of pertussis was that gained from popular media, I'd feel I was a horrible parent - deserving of stoning for the risk I was putting my child in. The "Sounds of Pertussis" page on Facebook has over 49,000 fans. Websites have been built solely around the looped recordings of children and babies with whooping cough. Lopez puts a pop culture spin on the whole resounding message: Your baby needs to get the pertussis vaccine, and so do you - now! Or s/he could die from this horrific cough. [One video example below]
The real facts of the matter are much different than those painted in the celeb-hosted media advertisements. Parents who opt out of the pertussis vaccine for their children do not contribute to pertussis cases among vaccinated children, as this article below suggests. Pertussis (and the vaccine associated with it) is one of the more well-researched illnesses. In fact, breastfeeding - especially exclusive breastfeeding (i.e. nothing but human milk for a human baby) for at least the first 8 months of life - is a much more potent 'vaccine' against pertussis than any manufactured one has ever been.
[Side note: The gut of a human infant closes around the 8th month. 80% of the immune system is housed in the gut. The longer a human infant receives only human milk (thereby not altering the natural flora of the virgin open gut), the more effective their immune system will be - both immediately and long term. This is one of the reasons that we set our initial goal as 12 months of exclusive breastmilk for our babies, altering it with flexibility (ranging 8-18 months) depending on an individual baby's needs, birth status (preemie vs. full term) and developmental stages. It is also a basic contributing factor in the history of humans consuming primarily human milk (and little else) for the first 2 years of life.]
For further information on the subject of pertussis and diseases and vaccinations in general, and in order to make a decision that makes the best sense for your family and each individual child (on a case by case basis) see books linked here.
Whooping Cough Strain Immune to VaccineBy Danny Rose of The Daily Telegraph
THE bacteria that causes whooping cough has mutated, eroding the protection provided by the vaccine now given to children, scientists warned yesterday.
University of NSW researchers have identified significant changes in the two most common strains of the bordetella pertussis bacteria, which they also traced back to events in the late 1990s.
Australian children were given a broad-acting "whole cell" vaccination against whooping cough up to 1997, but this was phased out over two years and replaced with a more targeted version.
Concerns over potential side-effects were behind the change to a vaccine with a narrower scope, but this now appears to have contributed to the promotion of resistant strains.
"A key issue is that the whole cell vaccine contained hundreds of antigens, which gave broad protection against many strains of pertussis," UNSW School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences associate professor Ruiting Lan said.
"But the (targeted) acellular vaccine contains only three to five antigens. Our findings suggest that the use of the acellular vaccine may be one factor contributing to these genetic changes."
The research team analysed more than 200 samples of the bacterium collected over the past 40 years in Australia and compared them with samples from Japan, Canada, USA and Finland.
They found while the vaccine now in use was effective against some of the strains circulating in Australia it may no longer protect against two strains, known as MT27 and MT70.
Dr Lan said more research was needed to confirm the results but health authorities may need to modify the vaccine to broaden the protection it offered.
Whooping cough cases are on the rise in Australia, with several significant outbreaks seen last year in western Sydney.
Protection against whooping cough is contained in childhood vaccinations which, in NSW, are usually given to infants.
Parents who opt out of this child vaccination process were thought to have contributed to the rise in cases.