Tag Archives: whooping cough

Delaying or Missing DPaT Shots…Dangerous (Article)

Whooping cough, a disease once thought to be a relic of medical history is making a comeback in the 21st century. It is becoming a real threat for the infants of today. Most parents, have heard of the DPaT vaccine but don’t understand what it does to  help their children.  Many parents are finding out the hard way just how important it is to the health of their young infants.  Among the myriads of vaccines available for infants, the DPaT vaccine is well-worth special notice.  The DPaT vaccine prevents three harmful and possibly lethal diseases, including diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis ( also known as whooping cough). Whooping cough is the most common of the three and is highly contagious, causing uncontrollable coughing, choking, and dangerous difficulty in breathing. Because of its effectiveness, the DPaT vaccine is a highly recommended vaccine for infants, and requires repeated injections at ages 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months, and 4-6 years. For a variety of reasons, many infants are not receiving this vital vaccine at a young enough age to prevent life-threatening pertussis.


A recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics revealed how important it is for your children to get their DPaT shots on time.  These researchers revealed that missing doses of DTaP drastically increases the risk of contracting whooping cough. Jason Glanz, of Kaiser Permanante Colorado, and his colleagues examined children from 3 months to 3 years who missed three or four doses of DPaT.  Alarmingly these children were 19 times and 28 times more likely to have whooping cough, respectively than their vaccinated friends. Dr. Glanz also found that almost half of all the cases of whooping cough he studied occurred in children who had missed doses of the vaccine. Researchers predicted that almost 40% of those cases of whooping cough could have been prevented with on-time vaccinations. The research is clear; the risk of catching whooping cough drastically increases with each missed vaccine. It is now clear that late and missed  vaccination with DPaT vaccine is part of the cause of  the recent outbreak of whooping cough across the U.S.


So, if your child is up to date on all their DPaT vaccinations, keep up the good work!  If you think your child may have missed a dose, please don’t hesitate to call your doctor and schedule an appointment. Life gets hectic, and sometimes it’s really easy for a little vaccine to slip through the cracks but remember, prevention is the best medicine, so make those appointments a priority!


I welcome your comments at my blog, www.docsmo.com.  Tell us what you think or share a story. Until next time.


Smo Notes:

1. http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/


Written collaboratively by Keri Register and Paul Smolen M.D.

From the desk of Doc Smo: Whooping Cough Update (article)


Public attention has been intensifying over concern that we are losing the war against a severe disease called whooping cough: a disease that we thought we had licked back in the 70’s. This highly infectious bacterial infection, that attacks a child’s bronchi, is making a major resurgence in the US.   Currently Washington State and California have gotten the brunt of what is now being called an epidemic.  In 2010 alone, 27,550 cases of whooping cough were reported in the US.


Here is the scary part of the evolving whooping story.  While being properly vaccinated reduces a child’s chances of getting infected by 8 fold, the majority of the cases of that have occurred in California and Washington state have been among young infants who have not completed their initial vaccines and among older children. What is particularly alarming to experts is that most of the cases in older children have afflicted ADEQUATELY VACCINATED CHILDREN clustering in the 7-10 year olds and the 13-14 year olds. In other words, the vaccine does not seem to be working since properly immunized children are coming down with the illness!


To understand this further, you need to know a little bit of the history of the vaccine.  Up until the 90’s, pertussis vaccine was made from the “whole cell” of the germ borditella pertussis. The vaccine worked very well but created a lot of side effects such as high fever and large swellings at the site of the shot.  In the “old days” of the whole cell DPT, we never gave the 18 month or 4-6 year booster in the legs because so many parents complained that they had to carry their children around for a few days if we gave it in their child’s leg!  We also didn’t give this vaccine to anyone over 6 years of age because they just couldn’t tolerate it.  Then came the acellular version of the DPT, also known as DPaT (the “a” standing for acellular).  This is the version of pertussis vaccine that we are using today that seems not to be giving very longstanding immunity. It just doesn’t work as well as the old whole cell version.


So the choice now seems clear.  Either we immunize everyone with more frequent doses of the modern acellular pertussis vaccine or we go back to the good old days with the whole cell vaccine and put up with the high fevers and large swellings. It will be interesting to see what the experts decide to do. Stay tuned and get ready to roll up your sleeves, I have a felling more shots are coming your way.


Smo Notes: