• Whooping cough vaccine becomes less effective over time, according to new research

    By: Lorena Inclan , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The whooping cough vaccine, known as DTaP, is less effective over time.

    That’s according to a new study published by the journal Pediatrics that looked at nearly half a million children born from 1999 to 2016.

    It’s a sound no parent wants to hear: the persistent and at times deadly cough.  

    It’s pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough.

    Local mom Stephanie Martin said she takes vaccines seriously.

    “All my kids are vaccinated, they’re up to date. I’m pretty diligent about that,” Martin said.

    But new research shows the protection offered by the pertussis vaccine wanes as children get older.

    Dr. Sunil Joshi said the reason for that goes back to the '90s.

    “Previous pertussis vaccine, which (included) the whole cell that actually had the bacteria in it, had a lot of side effects, including very high fevers and the potential for seizures,” Joshi said.

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    Which is why in 1997, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the DTaP vaccine to combat the side effects. 

    “It had much less side effects but it doesn’t work as well,” Joshi said.

    So far this year, the Florida Department of Health says four whooping cough outbreaks have been reported in school settings.

    In March, there were 25 reported cases in Florida. In April 29, and in May, there were 31. 

    The most recent data from the health department shows that Clay County was the only local county to report cases in the last two months.

    It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get vaccinated; experts say those who aren’t vaccinated are at a much greater risk than those who are.

    Also, the vaccine protects against tetanus and diphtheria.

    “It may not be so much that the vaccine is not effective it may be that we need to do the vaccine more frequently than we were before,” Joshi said.

    Martin said she’s thankful for the studies.

    “Vaccines are going to change, and we have to adapt, as well as these vaccines,” Martin said.


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