As you are probably aware, and I have written about previously, the US is in the midst of a whooping cough epidemic. With a “business-as-usual” bias, a number of agencies, individuals within the medical community and representatives of major media outlets have blamed “ignorant and irresponsible” parents choosing not to vaccinate their children as the cause of this outbreak. That criticism is unfair, because, as many studies show, parents who choose to limit the vaccinations their children receive are better educated than other parents. Calling these parents ignorant shows that these commentators are themselves uninformed. It goes further than that, though. As I so often find myself writing, opinion is shifting and those “authorities” are beginning to see their own ignorance, or at least redirecting their blame cannons.
In the past week compelling new data have been published, supporting the contentions of many (including me), that the vaccine is not doing its job. One expert speculated that as many as 95% of those currently developing whooping cough got the disease because their vaccine-created immunity waned. Some are then suggesting a return to the old vaccine, forgetting all of the serious reactions it created and data showing that it was not that effective.
But, hold on. 95% of cases? Nowhere in the US are 95% of children vaccinated for whooping cough. Statistically, that would mean that children receiving the whooping cough vaccine would be MORE likely to get the disease than unvaccinated children. Sounds odd, but that very thing happened with the first version of the HIB meningitis vaccine. I have a lot of patients who are not vaccinated for pertussis. Although I have seen many patients with whooping cough over the years, I have yet to see one during this epidemic. Also, an anonymous public health official, working in an area where a very high percentage of children are not vaccinated for whooping cough, told me that every case of whooping cough she had seen in this current outbreak occurred in a vaccinated child.
Who is ignorant?