CDC: Whooping cough vaccine not as effective as it once was

Whooping cough bacteria (Source: CDC website)
Whooping cough bacteria (Source: CDC website)(CDC website)
Updated: Mar. 16, 2019 at 7:09 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A recent study by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers reveals the vaccine used to prevent the whooping cough is less effective than it once was, due to mutating bacteria.

Amidst recent whooping cough outbreaks, including a private school in Los Angeles where vaccinated students were diagnosed with the illness, CDC researchers published a report that showed a resurgence of the bacteria.

"The bacteria of the whooping cough organism has changed over time, and according to the current data, the vaccine that's out there is not as effective as it one was," Dr. Brobson Lutz said.

Lutz said another reason could be the vaccine currently used has been watered down from a prior version to limit side effects.

"Well it decreased the side effects, but it also decreased the immunogenicity of it, meaning the vaccine was not as effective," Lutz said.

According to the CDC website, there were 120 cases of whooping cough in Louisiana in 2018. The regions most affected were in St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes.

Regardless, Lutz still recommends getting the vaccination.

“People who receive the vaccine, even if it fails and they do get whooping cough, is generally a less severe form of the whooping cough,” Lutz said.

Some parents, like Brandy Roy, said they’re not too concerned, because the vaccine still offers some level of protection.

“It’s kind of like the flu vaccine right? So we get the flu vaccine every single year, but there’s still a chance that you could still get the flu, but I think that the idea is that even you just getting the flu vaccine may help like your immune system,” Roy said.

Rona Harris said she still plans on vaccinating her daughter.

“It’s not 100 percent [fool] proof. I know that, but her chances of getting the whooping cough are definitely lowered by getting the shot than not having it at all,” Harris said.

Lutz said deaths from whooping cough mostly occur in those younger than one year old.

“It’s still concerning that you know, just the potential for your kids to get exposed to that, whether they are younger or older, that’s kind of like, you get worried a little bit,” Roy said.

The CDC says the best protection is still the DTaP vaccine. It stresses early treatment with antibiotics for those infected to prevent serious complications.

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