Whooping Cough Outbreak in 2010 Tied to Vaccine-Averse Parents

Tuesday, 01 Oct 2013 05:59 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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Researchers have linked parents who didn't employ vaccinations to a 2010 outbreak of whooping cough in California.

The research, published in the journal Pediatrics, involved analyzing all nonmedical exemptions for children going into kindergarten in California schools from 2005 to 2010. Some children can’t have the immunizations because of medical issues like allergies. Very young children also can’t be vaccinated.

Researchers then matched that list to the more than 9,000 cases of whooping cough that occurred in California in 2010, the first such extreme outbreak in 60 years. They found that 39 areas where there were high rates of nonmedical vaccination exemptions showed an overlap with the whooping cough clusters.

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“We live in a free society, but infectious diseases are different from other phenomenon. Someone else's behavior can affect my child or loved one, or me," the study’s author Dr. Saad Omer, told HealthDay.

“Not vaccinating your child is not a benign decision. It has real health consequences to the individual child and to the community,” he said.

The study found that the risk of getting whooping cough was 20 percent higher for people who lived inside a vaccine exemption area.

The California whooping cough clusters and vaccine exemption clusters were found to be in areas with fewer minorities, higher numbers of high school graduates, higher average incomes for a household, and fewer families living in poverty.

Other studies, including one done by the Centers for Disease Control, found that people who don’t get vaccinations for their children tend to be in higher socio-economic areas, HealthDay said.

“The irony is that normally people with lower socioeconomic status have an increased risk of infectious diseases, but with vaccine-preventable infectious diseases, the risk is higher for those higher in socioeconomic status,” Dr. Kenneth Bromberg, who wasn’t associated with the study, told HealthDay.

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Related stories:

Vaccination Fears Trigger Epidemic

Texas Whooping Cough Outbreak Prompts Statewide Warning

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