Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fears of Vaccine Increase Whooping Cough Risk

-C. Paula de los Angeles

A recent study by Dr. Jason Glanz of the Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Research in Colorado published in Pediatrics found that the vaccination for the whooping cough is highly effective--in fact, children vaccinated against the whooping cough are twenty times less likely to catch this contagious disease than children who are not vaccinated. The whooping cough is characterized as uncontrollable deep coughing, claiming infants as its most susceptible and vulnerable victim.

As an epidemiologist, Glanz found that one in twenty-five children not vaccinated got the whooping cough, whereas only one in five hundred children who were vaccinated. The study is the first to look at the relationship of immunizations and rats of whooping cough (pertussis) through medical records. Glanz says he wanted to examine the influence of vaccine refusals with the whooping cough because the illness is still very much present, with 10,000 US cases in 2007.

Glanz argues that many factors may be deterring parents from vaccinating their children, namely the empty threat of Autism as well as the belief in "herd immunity", the idea that if others vaccinate their children, vaccinating one's own children is unnecessary. He believes that the "tipping point" to an outbreak would be if immunization rates drop below 90%.

An interesting issue this article highlights is the idea of herd immunity. In an economic sense, it seems like all lose if someone doesn't vaccinate (prisoner's dilemma). Because we can never be sure if the other person will vaccinate on their own, is it necessary that we make all rigorously approved vaccines mandatory? Perhaps, I think.

Primary article here: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/123/6/1446?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=jason+glanz&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&sortspec=relevance&resourcetype=HWCIT

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