NVIC Vaccine News

Whooping Cough Outbreaks & Vaccine Failures

By Barbara Loe Fisher
Published July 08, 2010 in Infectious Diseases & Vaccines


Reports of whooping cough outbreaks in California1,2 and in other states this summer are nothing new. Every four to five years – no matter how high the vaccination rate is - there are reports of whooping cough increases.

Whooping cough is a respiratory disease. Toxins in Bordetella pertussis bacteria stimulate the production of large amounts of thick, sticky mucus that can clog the airways of tiny babies and children, making it difficult for them to take a breath without vomiting, choking and making a whooping sound3 as they struggle to breathe.

There is an acellular pertussis vaccine – DTaP - which was licensed for American babies in 1996.4 DTaP replaced an older, very reactive whole cell pertussis vaccine - DPT - that was associated with more cases of high fever, collapse/shock, convulsions, brain inflammation and permanent brain damage.5,6
It is well known that pertussis vaccines, which can contain various amounts of bioactive toxins7,8,9,10,11 and also aluminum12,13,14 and mercury15 additives, have killed and brain injured some children. Over half of the 2,480 awards for vaccine injury and death totaling $2 billion dollars made under the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act involve pertussis vaccine.16
Pertussis vaccination rates are very high in the U.S. According to the CDC, 84 percent of children under age three have received four DTaP shots.17 By the time American children enter kindergarten nearly every child has gotten all the CDC recommended pertussis shots.18 In 2009, the CDC said that the proportion of totally unvaccinated children in America is only six hundredths of one percent (0.06).19
Even with super high pertussis vaccine coverage in America and other countries like the Netherlands, Australia, Finland and Canada, whooping cough disease cannot be prevented.20 There are two main reasons for this fact.
First, pertussis vaccines widely used since the 1950’s have not prevented whooping cough disease from circulating in vaccinated populations. Unknown numbers of children and adults, who have gotten all government recommended pertussis shots, can and do develop whooping cough or are carriers without symptoms.21,22
Because pertussis vaccine immunity is only temporary and does not last, health officials are now telling teenagers and adults to get more booster shots.23 But that is not going to matter if scientific evidence that B. pertussis organisms have mutated and become vaccine-resistant turns out to be correct.24
A second important reason is that another Bordetella organism – parapertussis – also can cause whooping cough.25 B. parapertussis symptoms, while often milder, can look exactly like B. pertussis. But doctors rarely recognize or test for parapertussis.26 And there is NO vaccine for parapertussis. 
The DTaP vaccine given 5 times to children under age 6 and booster doses for teenagers and adults does not protect against whooping cough caused by B. parapertussis. In highly vaccinated countries like the U.S., parpertussis is on the rise and it is estimated that perhaps 30 percent or more of whooping cough disease is actually caused by parapertussis!27
So which bacterial organism is causing much of the whooping cough being seen in California, Nevada,28 Oregon and other states this summer? Is it B. pertussis or B. parapertussis? Has there been any attempt by health officials to do expensive PCR lab tests on suspected whooping cough cases to find out?29
Another question: Are public health officials being transparent with the public about just how many children and adults reported to have whooping cough have been fully vaccinated? In 1985 there was a lot of publicity about whooping cough outbreaks in eight states and all the blame was put on parents of DPT vaccine injured children calling for a safer pertussis vaccine. But 25 years ago I investigated those whooping cough outbreaks and found 50 to 80 percent or more of the children and adults with whooping cough symptoms had been vaccinated.30
Bordetella organisms causing whooping cough disease live in animals like sheep, pigs, cats and dogs, as well as humans, and have been part of the earth’s ecosystem, evolving to survive, for thousands of years. 31 32 Yet, mass vaccination of humans with pertussis vaccine is only 60 years old.
So why are the unvaccinated being blamed for whooping cough outbreaks in California,33 Oregon34 and other states? The majority of Americans alive today have gotten 3 to 5 pertussis shots.
The truth is that, whether you are vaccinated or not, you can get a mild or serious case of whooping cough from B. pertussis or B. parapertussis organisms. And both whooping cough disease and pertussis vaccines carry a risk of injury or death, which can be greater for some than others.
There are no guarantees.
It is time for public health officials and doctors to look at themselves and stop pointing fingers at those, who have examined pertussis vaccine benefits and risks and come to a different conclusion.
After my precocious two year old son suffered a convulsion, collapse/shock and brain inflammation following his fourth DPT shot in 1980 and was left with multiple learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder, in 1993 my two youngest children, then 5 and 10 years old, came down with whooping cough. They coughed violently and spit up huge amounts of thick mucus for 8 weeks before fully recovering and going on to become honor roll students.
The profile on whooping cough in the 1985 book I co-authored with medical historian Harris Coulter, “DPT: A Shot in the Dark,35 is about my sister and her family, who were fully vaccinated. Her newborn baby almost died of whooping cough but survived and attended college on a full academic scholarship. Even so, other babies who get whooping cough do not survive.
There are no guarantees.
A quarter century later, DPT: A Shot in the Dark still stands as the most comprehensive, referenced analysis of whooping cough and pertussis vaccine risks and why America’s mass vaccination system is in urgent need of reform. Become a family donor supporter of the National Vaccine Information Center and you will receive a complimentary copy of that historic book.
Protect yourself and your child by making educated vaccine decisions. It’s your health. Your family. Your choice.


1 California Department of Health. Press Release: Whooping Cough Epidemic May Be Worst in 50 Years. June 23, 2010.
2 Scheck J. Whooping cough afflicts region. Wall Street Journal. June 24, 2010.
3 Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Sounds. Accessed June 6, 2010.
4 CDC. FDA Approval of a Second Acellular Pertussis Vaccine for Use Among Infants and Young Children. MMWR. 1997;46:110-111.
5 Gold, R. Pertussis: The Disease & the Vaccine. Canadian Family Physician. Vol 32, January 1986, pp. 79-83. 
6 Legido A, Tenembaum SN, Katsetos CD, Menkes JH. Autoimmune & Postinfectious Diseases (Chapter 8). Child Neurology – 7th Edition. Lippencott Williams & Wilkins, 2006. Pages 631-634 (Neurologic Complications of Immunizations).
7 Sidney M, Furman BL, Wardlaw AC. Effect of hyperreactivity to endotoxin on the toxicity of pertussis vaccine and pertussis toxin in mice. Vaccine. Vol. 7, Issue 3. June 1989. Pages 237-241.
8 World Health Organization (WHO). Requirements for Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis 7 Combined Vaccines (Revised 1989). Technical Report Series, No) 500. 1990.
9 Steinman L, Weiss A et al. Pertussis toxin is required for pertussis vaccine encephalopathy. Proc Natl Acad Sci, 1985. December; 82(24) 8733-8736.
10 Businesswire. Chiron Biocine Genetically Engineered Acellular Pertussis Vaccine Proves Superior to Currently Licensed Vaccine. Chiron Press Release: July 13, 1995.
11 Hofstetter HH, Shive CL, Forsthuber TC. Pertussis Toxin Modulates the Immune Response to Neuroantigens Injected in Incomplete Freund’s Adjuvant: Induction of Th1 Cells and Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis in the Presence of High Frequencies of Th2 Cells. The Journal of Immunology, 2002. 169: 117-125.
12 Gupta RK, Relyveid EH. Adverse reactions after injection of adsorbed diptheria – pertussis – tetanus (DPT) vaccine are not due only to pertussis organisms or pertussis components in the vaccine. Vaccine. Vol. 9, Issue 10. October 1991. Pages 699-702.
13 Bergfors E, Trollfors B, Inerot A. Unexpectedly high incidence of persistent itching nodules and delayed hypersensitivity to aluminum in children after the use of adsorbed vaccines from a single manufacturer. Vaccine. Vol. 22, Issue 1. December 8, 2003. Pages 64-69.
14 Rimaniol AC, Gras G et al. Aluminum hydroxide adjuvant induces macrophage differentiation towards a specialized antigen-presenting cell type. Vaccine. Vol. 22, Issues 23-24. 13 August 2004. Pages 3127-3135.
15 Waly M, Olteanu H. Activation of methionine synthase by insulin-like growth factor – 1 and dopamine: a target for neurodevelopmental toxins and thimerosal. Molecular Psychiatry (2004) 9, 358-370. 
16 HRSA. National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). Claims Filed and Compensated or Dismissed by Vaccine. (up to May 5, 2010). and Statistics Report: Awards Paid (as of June 7, 2010).
17 CDC. Immunization Rates Remain Stable at High Levels Among the Nation’s 19 through 35 month old children. CDC Press Release: August 27, 2009.
18 CDC. Vaccination Coverage Among Children Entering School – United States, 2005-2006 School Year. MMWR. October 20, 2006. 55(41); 124-1126.
19 See Reference #17.
20 Mooi F R, van LooIHM, King A. Adaptation of Bordetella pertussis to Vaccination: A Cause for its Reemergence? Emerging Infectious Diseases. Vol. 7, No. 3 Supplement June 2001.
21 Grilc E, Pirnat N. Pertussis outbreak in recently vaccinated children in a kindergarten in Ljubljana during a resurgence in pertussis incidence. Eurosurveillance. Vol. 10, Issue 33. 18 August 2005.
22 Srugo I, Benilevi D et al. Pertussis Infection in Fully Vaccinated Children in Day-Care Centers, Israel. Emerging Infectious Diseases. Vol. 6, No. 5 September-Oct. 2000.
23 Brooks DA, Clover R. Pertussis Infection in the United States: Role for Vaccination of Adolescents and Adults. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine 19:603-611. 2006.
24 See References #20 and #21
25 Kheief N, Danve B etal. Bordetella pertussis and Bordetella parapertussis: two immunologically distinct species. Infection & Immunity. 1993 February; 61(2): 486-490.
26 He Q, Vijanen MK et al. Whooping Cough Caused by Bordetella pertussis and Bordetella parapertussis in an Immunized Population. JAMA. 1998; 280: 635-637.
27 Liese JG, Renner C. Clinical and epidemiological picture of B pertussis and B parapertussis infections after introduction of acellular pertussis vaccines. Archives of Diseases in Childhood 2003; 88: 684-687. Also see Reference #26.
28 Magin K. Low vaccination rates cause worry over whooping cough. The Union (Nevada). June 15, 2010.
29 LabCorp. A Technical Review: Bordetella pertussis and Bordetella parapertussis Detection using Real-time PCR. 2007.
30 Fisher, BL. Presentation to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, Centers for Disease Control, May 12, 1986.
31 Preston A. Bordetella pertussis: the intersection of genomics and pathobiology. Canadian Medical Association Journal. July 5, 2005. 173 (1)
32 Diavatopoulos DA, Cummings CA et al. Bordetella pertussis, the Causative Agent of Whooping Cough, Evolved from a Distinct Human-Associated Lineage of B. brohchiseptica. PLOS Pathogens. December 2005: Vol. 1, Issue 4.
33 Weerasekara P. California Mulls Mandatory Shot for Whooping Cough. New American Media. July 3, 2010.
34 The Oregonian. Putting other kids in harm’s way. July 4, 2010.
35 Coulter HL, Fisher BL. DPT: A Shot in the Dark. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. 1985.

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15 Responses to "Whooping Cough Outbreaks & Vaccine Failures"
Commenter Name
Larrie F. Collura
Posted: 7/15/2010 12:08:17 PM
I have had it with this shit.Our Son Larrie was brain damaged from lot @a41126 with 11 deaths and 138 events. Four PhD AND gentic testing from UNC all agree that Larrie Suffered from the DPT and I can not get to Court with the facts. The lot # before and after this lot had the same numbers of deaths. It met the criteria 12 times to be recalled and was not. I have been to D.C. twice to speech with Congress. I am pissed.....
Commenter Name
Larrie F. Collura
Posted: 7/15/2010 12:18:23 PM
Our son larrie was braain damaged from lot # 2A41126..it met the critria of the fda 12 times to be recalled ; it was not. Report showed 11 deathes and 138 events. The lot before and after thisone had the same numbers of deathes. I have been to Waxmans office and five other Congressmen with larrie's file. Four letters from PhD's and UNC Genetics and state that larrie's brain damage was from the DPT...I have all the facts but have been rejected from Court. My son deserves the hearing. I am pissed.
Commenter Name
Posted: 7/16/2010 12:59:40 PM
My twin sons got sick following a DTP vaccine in 11/09. They developed a chronic cough in the morning and the evening before bed. I thought they were developing asthma. I gave them 2 herbs. Pau d'Arco and Gingko by Herb Pharm, put pure spearmint oil in their humidifer reverted back to a fortified infant formula for one week and it cleared it up. The next doctors visit, I declined this shot when they recommended it and won't be giving it to them again!!
Commenter Name
Posted: 7/18/2010 3:20:32 PM
Please send me the book: SHOT IN THE DARK. Thank you so much for all you are & continue to do for us and our children/grand babies God Bless You! Carole
Commenter Name
Posted: 7/20/2010 12:07:40 PM
I was disappointed with this newsletter. I am opposed to the widespread use of vaccines (and as such my kids are unvaccinated) so usually these news updates are preaching to the choir! But this time I saw many flaws and holes that vaccine proponents regularly use to discredit the anti-vaccine movement. 1) Talking about the percentage of kids who got pertussis during outbreaks. Of course 80% are going to be vaccinated since vaccination rates are high. The real question is the percentage of UNvaccinated kids that got (or more interestingly DIDN'T) get the disease. 2) Parapertussis. Because parapertussis is happening as well, this doesn't mean the pertussis vaccine is irrelevent... vaccine proponents could easily say, "Well, if all of the cases of whooping cough are from parapertussis, then that means we would have even MORE cases (pertussis + parapertussis) if we stopped vaccinating. 3) Honor roll...? It doesn't matter that your kids are on the honor roll (or that your friend's kid went to college on a scholarship). What matters is the kids survived. You make a fantastic, highly relevant argument that THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES. But I was sad to see it muddled with these glaring oversights.
Commenter Name
Posted: 7/21/2010 6:52:29 AM
Barbara, you deserve a medal of honor for the hard work you do and our family is grateful. So take it with a grain of salt that I largely agree with Tracy's points above that the argument here seems to me to have some holes in it. I try very hard to not look at this as the "pro-vaccine" and "anti-vaccine" camps, but rather an earnest look at science and health, and what makes sense. The more we've learned, the less the vaccine argument makes sense in our eyes. What is for sure is for a generation the vaccine makers have ridden on the backs of fear and largely avoided having to do the science to prove vaccines work, and are a better alternative to not vaccinating. You by far are making a better case than they (and by extension our pediatrician) are making. Keep up the pressure so that all sides are honest brokers of information. Doubt that's gonna happen, but we can hope...
Commenter Name
Posted: 7/21/2010 6:53:01 AM
Barbara, you deserve a medal of honor for the hard work you do and our family is grateful. So take it with a grain of salt that I largely agree with Tracy's points above that the argument here seems to me to have some holes in it. I try very hard to not look at this as the "pro-vaccine" and "anti-vaccine" camps, but rather an earnest look at science and health, and what makes sense. The more we've learned, the less the vaccine argument makes sense in our eyes. What is for sure is for a generation the vaccine makers have ridden on the backs of fear and largely avoided having to do the science to prove vaccines work, and are a better alternative to not vaccinating. You by far are making a better case than they (and by extension our pediatrician) are making. Keep up the pressure so that all sides are honest brokers of information. Doubt that's gonna happen, but we can hope...
Commenter Name
Shawna Morris
Posted: 7/27/2010 1:08:55 PM
I am tired of doctors pushing parents to vaccinate if they are unwilling. I have said no at every appointment and they still insist and ask me to vaccinate my child. My answer is no. I don't want to wait for something to happen before I have to say no again. We have a choice and don't need to be harassed by doctors who think they know best.
Commenter Name
Posted: 8/22/2010 10:13:11 AM
I am so sick of people like you who do nothing but spread misinformation on this topic. Please go away and take your vaccine preventable diseases with you!
Commenter Name
Elizabeth Allemann, MD
Posted: 11/5/2010 7:20:50 PM
Dear Ms. Fisher, I think all your points are valid and relevant. It is important to point out that the outbreaks we are seeing are not ENTIRELY the "fault" of parents who choose not to immunize or who intentionally immunize late. We must admit that we haven't yet discovered how to eliminate pertussis. The issue of parapertussis is important. If we aren't accurately diagnosing, we can't respond with effectiveness. Increased vaccination rates for one disease won't change the rates for another. When public health officials make reports, especially if there seems to be blame placed on responsible parents, somebody needs to call them out. Thanks for doing so. Elizabeth Allemann, MD Family Physician, Missouri, USA
Commenter Name
Posted: 11/24/2010 12:45:32 AM
My daughter is 6 months old. And I have not gotten any shots yet for her because all I do is read things like this that tell me about so many bad things that can happen to her. I am completely terrified. I fight with other people, Mostly my in-laws. Because they don't read any of this stuff even if I tell them to. And they think I am wrong. I am sorry, But I am not willing to risk the life of my child just so a doctor can feel like he or she did her job. Their jobs are to keep my child healthy and safe, By forcing or even promoting (in my opinion) Is the opposite of what their job is, And the oath they took. Putting aside morals. It sickens me.
Commenter Name
me 2
Posted: 8/9/2011 4:14:25 PM
drs are paid by the pharmaceutical companies and government. they both look out for themselves and not the well being of others. i choose not to vaccinate and ask others to do their homework entirely before they make that life changing decision on their child's behalf. its MY choice and should be respected.
Commenter Name
me 2
Posted: 8/9/2011 4:16:06 PM
drs are paid by the pharmaceutical companies and government. they both look out for themselves and not the well being of others. i choose not to vaccinate and ask others to do their homework entirely before they make that life changing decision on their child's behalf. its MY choice and should be respected.
Commenter Name
Posted: 9/4/2011 3:21:11 PM
I am 100% anti vaccine. I have no problem admitting that fact and will debate anyone who cares to debate me on the issue. I find it very sad that so many parents trust a government that repeatedly shows they can't be trusted and herds their babies and trusting kids to the doctors office to put this poison in their little bodies. Parents who have 1 child with brain damage from these vaccines who then vaccinate their 2nd child anyway, I believe should be charged with child abuse. I know this is harsh but for the love of God didn't they learn the 1st time, from their 1st child, that these vaccines are poison? Biochemicals, aluminum, mercury? And a host of other toxins that do not belong in a tiny baby or childs body? I have to say thank God many parents are finally doing their homework, mostly from other parents informing them on the facts that these vaccines are poison and they should stay far away from them. I have watched 3 babies myself, in my circle of friends, die from these vaccines. 3 babies myself is far too many for 1 person to see, can only imagine how many babies in my county have actually died in the past say 10 years. Its simply sickening to have a happy healthy baby one day then after taking them to the doctors office, believing, because that's what society tells them is what you are to do, you have a baby and you take them to the doctors at months old and give them this poison in their little innocent bodies and kill them. Yes, this sounds dramatic, but it is 100% true. So many parents truely believe that's what they must do. And sadly, some of these babies do die. If they don't die, they can end up with severe brain damage, severe learning disabilities, or some are not noticable until later when they start school and have learning disorders, ADHD, and a host of other problems, that no one ever traces back to all those poison shots their child received as a baby. Its criminal in my opinion by the pharmaceuticuls and government who know full well these vaccines are poison. And I am afraid its also criminal when a parent has 1 child either die, have severe brain damage, autism, aspergers, or other serious brain disorders and they then take their 2nd child in and allow them to give them vaccines. Why? Why would you want to chance harming your 2nd child when you're now dealing with a diabled 1st child? It makes 0 sense to me. I myself, and I'm a grandmother, have never had a single vaccine, my children never had a single vaccine, their children have never had a single vaccine, and we are ALL perfectly fine. We had no problem getting into school and more importantly we had no risk of damage from the poison injected into our bodies. None of us have ever come down with anything that they vaccinate against. None of us are a danger to those who are vaccinated, in fact its the opposite, the vaccinated are a danger to those who aren't vaccinated. Some of these vaccines were given as live sustances. There were cases of grandparents coming down with Polio after changing a recently vaccinated baby. They had many cases, and then said oh maybe we shouldn't have live vaccines, they supposedly changed this vaccine to not carry live substances. Sick stuff, I personally have my kids and grandkids stay away from recently vacccinated babies and children. They are much more harmful to the unvacccinated than the unvaccinated are to the vaccinated. Those vaccinated should be protected right? They can't catch anything from my unvaccinated child right? If you want to believe your child is protected because they've been vaccinated that's your choicee. But, it is not the truth. These vaccinations, if your child survives them, do not protect your child from squat. They can still come down with every childhood disease they are supposed to be vaccinated against. Its like the flu vaccine. Don't even get me started. People flock in to get their flu shot. Most then come down with the flu. Every year I watched my grandmother go get her flu shot and every year she came down with the flu. She was an ex nurse so trying to convince her to stop getting the shot was impossible. She believed what she learned in nursing school. Vaccines were good and needed to prevent disease. Unfortunately that's the same with most doctos. They aren't to blame, that's alll they know. That's all they learned in medical school. Although many doctors are getting smart. They are doing their homework and questioning if all these vaccines are safe, or needed. High fives to all those doctors who are no longer promoting these vaccines. It becomes very supicious wouldn't you have to agree when the drug stores and television commercials are promoting sales, they have sales on these vaccines. Buy one get one free at your local pharmacy. This is on flu shots and even the whooping cough vaccine they're now making all teens get or they say they can't come to school. 2 for 1 whooping cough shots. Is that not sick? Does that not tell you this is a racket? A way to get more millions for the pharmacueticul companies? Please people, open your eyes, do your research, make better choices for the wellness of your childen. Their lives may actually depend on it!
Commenter Name
Kathy Sheehy
Posted: 4/13/2013 1:26:06 PM
I just found this info about Pertussis vaccine on the tracking vaccines website. http://www.trackingvaccinations.com/ Do you know if this info is true? ie. that according to the package insert 25 years ago, the pertussis vaccine was only allowed to be given to children under 6 y/o and not older because the brain damage in older kids and adults was more obvious and could be hidden in young children? This one was very bad for my older son. Thanks for all the work you do Pertussis Vaccines has always been BANNED (contra-indicated) by the manufacturers for anyone over the age of 6, since the beginning. What they give today to teenagers and adults, has are 10 times LESS toxic than those for infants and children! SEE Ehrlich's phenomenon top ____________________________________________ DtaP shots are "BANNED" for adults, anyone over 6 (by manufacturer) below, manufacturer notes (from PDR) stating how DPT is banned for adults! ... called, 'Contra-Indictions' (NOT for use according to the maker of the vaccine!). it says above "...Persons 7 years of age and older must NOT be immunized with Pertussis Vaccine." The DPT and its newer and more dangerous version (hence, the increase), has always been banned from adults (due to brain damage and law suits). This has always been known by the manufacturer, and this has always been their stand. The idea to give this vaccine to adults is NOT in agreement with the manufacturers warnings in the PDR going back half a century. (In the new vaccine schedule, they are giving the DTaP to teenagers... but those whom are sensitive to the toxins in this vaccine, have already been affected, already succumbed, so it's a mute point after the developmental stage - up to 24 months, and beyond). SEE Ehrlich's phenomenon top

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