Whooping cough

The recent outbreak in California wasn’t the result of dummies not vaccinating their children, as I had assumed. The immunity wears off sooner than scientists realized, so a booster shot is necessary. Also, it sounds like the vaccine is less effective than I would have thought:

“A spokesperson for GSK, one of the pertussis vaccine makers, wrote in an email to Reuters Health that studies conducted by the company have shown the vaccine is about 78 percent effective in warding off disease up until the age of six years.” — Whooping cough vaccine fades in pre-teens: study

Seen at Aliens in this World


9 Replies to “Whooping cough”

  1. As I said over there– wasn’t just a result of no-vaccination kids.

    One of my big peeves with voluntarily skipping vaccination for deadly diseases is that it puts the kids at risk who already took the risk of being vaccinated, while the relative rarity of disease still offers an advantage. Pretty classic tragedy of the commons, really.

    1. Yes. One person can skip the vaccination and take advantage of herd immunity, at the cost of increasing everyone’s exposure. Since the vaccine is only about 80% effective, we need everyone to get the shots.

      I guess conversely, since some people for whatever reason don’t get the shot, you can’t rely on herd immunity, and so there’s more incentive to get the shot. There should be oscillation about an equilibrium as non-vaccination becomes more and less viable. Unfortunately, that equilibrium will result in more cases of whooping cough than there needs to be. So there’s a justification for making vaccination mandatory. Ah, game theory…

      1. Problem is less “yuppies exploiting the safety-in-numbers because they don’t want their kids to take the risk” and more “illegal aliens from areas where the diseases are much more common bringing in full-blown cases.” I’ve heard of nasty outbreaks in San Fran, San Diego, Portland and Seattle. One of those is on the border and would be expected to have a decent amount of traffic/interaction; the other three are sanctuary cities. (Also full of yuppies, but I digress.)

  2. It seems like this is the standard way they find out when vaccines wear off. Fun times ahead for kids who are getting the varicella vaccine now and in the past several years.

    1. Part of why my girls aren’t getting the chickenpox vaccine– that is a much bigger deal if it hits adults than if it hits kids. (other part being the whole dead baby thing)

      1. Mine are, but I have to say, varicella is the one infant/child vaccine that I wish we didn’t all do. Given that we do “all” vaccinate, and that I’d never intentionally expose my kids to it, they’d have a really slight chance of getting it even if unvaccinated. So it hardly does us any good to not vaccinate on the basis of getting it “out of the way” when they’re little.

        But yes, I think chicken pox was something like 4 million cases a year with 100-150 deaths/year. So, you know, .004% Plus a hospitalization rate of a quarter of a percent. I comfort myself with the idea that the tylenol they’d consume during a round of standard chicken pox is probably worse than a shot and a couple boosters.

        1. According to the vaccination fact sheet, before the vaccine was approved for use in ’95 there were “about” 100 deaths a year from chickenpox. (Any number they give for how many cases there were would be pure bull feces– literally no one that I know went to a doctor for chicken pox, and only one person I know didn’t have it.)

          In 1995, the US population was 262.8 million.

          For comparison, the flu kills double digit thousands a year.

  3. Chickenpox can lead to complications, like pneumonia or bacterial infections of the skin, and of course some people/families are in high-risk groups. I had it when I was 30, and it was pretty unpleasent – no serious complications though. Well informed individual families are in the best position to decide what to do.

    I got all the shots recommended when I was a boy. One day they bundled us all into buses and took us to get the oral polio vaccine. Then when I joined the army I got all the shots, then three months later I got all the shots again because they lost my records. Then six months after that I got all the shots for people who work with hazardous materials, which I believe included all the basic shots yet again. (A few years after that is when I had chickenpox.) Since then I’ve had a tetanus booster and a DPT shot, and I get a flu shot every year. When I get older I look forward to getting vaccines for shingles and for pneumonia, and whatever else they offer. I have to pay for the flu shots, and there might have been a co-pay for the tetanus. The rest has been provided by government.

    1. Well informed individual families are in the best position to decide what to do.

      If only people would be willing to leave it at that for the non-polio, non-small-pox-epidemic type situations! (Especially when the question of cooperation with evil is involved.)

      Thank goodness your adult pox wasn’t very bad– usually, that’s the most dangerous. That’s why they had the “pox parties” way back when.

      For what it’s worth, I like vaccines– I’m just very aware of the limitations and risks involved, and VERY cautious when people start talking about “everyone” being vaccinated for this or that.
      Basically, I’m as much against magical thinking for all vaccines as against vaccines.
      (Don’t get me started on something as relatively new as the chicken pox vaccine, either. ’95. We still don’t know what it will do to the adult chicken pox rates, etc.)

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