Back with a Vengeance: Berkeley’s Head Epidemiologist On the Return of Pertussis

Professor Arthur Reingold is Head of Epidemiology at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health

California: Is whooping cough coming back?

We certainly are having a resurgence of pertussis in the United States, although it’s never gone away. It is a threat to very young infants, particularly those too young to be vaccinated or who have not yet had a complete series of the vaccines. 

Where does pertussis come from? How can you catch it?

There is no nonhuman source of pertussis. Pertussis is limited strictly to humans. There are no animals that are involved in the transmission of pertussis and it’s not in the environment. So it’s 100 percent a disease that is transmitted from one person to another through coughing and sneezing, through the respiratory route. 

Why hasn’t vaccination wiped pertussis out?

You can be immunized and protected against getting the disease, pertussis, but still have the organism in your nose and throat and spread it to others. Or you can have a very mild illness that is caused by pertussis that causes you to cough, and thereby infect others. So the immunity is not 100 percent from the pertussis vaccine. And what it means is any kind of herd immunity—the way we see, for example, much more powerfully with measles—really can’t be relied upon.

What’s herd immunity?

Herd immunity—the idea that some unvaccinated people are protected because other people are vaccinated and thereby are less likely to come in contact with the organism—is very powerful for some infectious diseases and totally nonexistent and irrelevant for other infectious diseases. Pertussis is kind of in the middle.

Herd immunity is important, and one of the strategies we have for trying to prevent disease in newborn infants who are still too young to be vaccinated is called “cocooning,” where we try to vaccinate all of the adults in the household or who are in contact with that infant. But if people think they’re protected because they live in a generally well-vaccinated population like the United States, and therefore are not likely to get pertussis, that would be the wrong message to give, because the reality is the organism circulates freely in the U.S. despite high levels of vaccination.

Why “cocooning”?

In part because we don’t really have another way to protect young babies except to make sure that, A, they are born to well-immunized mothers and have some passive immunity from antibodies they get from their mother. But then it’s going to be several months before they can have had several doses and be protected through immunization, and we know that most babies who get pertussis get it from immediate contact within their family and the adults in their surroundings. So, B, we are trying to at least reduce the likelihood that the adults around a baby could be a source of infection for the baby. 

Who doesn’t get vaccinated?

So the Supreme Court basically ruled 100 years ago that you must allow people exemptions on religious, personal-belief kinds of grounds. So that’s sort of been basically adjudicated a long time ago, is my understanding. There are also rare instances where you shouldn’t vaccinate. For example, [if] you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine, you shouldn’t get more doses of that vaccine. So there are some medical counterindications—they are very rare—but they do exist. And then the whole question is, other than medical counterindications, … what types of religious or personal-belief exemptions do you allow?

But the easier it is for parents to opt out, the higher the proportion of parents who do opt out, and within states that make it easier, there are higher levels of opting out. Particularly there are pockets in the states of Washington and Oregon and California, including here in Northern California but also in Southern California, where as many as 20 or 30 percent of parents are opting out of vaccinating their children against pertussis. There are pockets here on the West Coast, and I suppose elsewhere, where that’s really reached an alarming proportion.

From the Summer 2014 Apocalypse issue of California.
Filed under: Science + Health
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MSDS are not a good source for information about the role and dangers of an ingredient in vaccines. They are designed for people who work with the ingredients constantly, and are exposed to large amounts. Look, for example, at the MSDS for vinegar or olive oil: they sound scary too. Again: vaccines only have tiny amounts of ingredients - and they are extensively tested for safety before being put on the market: the whole vaccine, not just the ingredient.
Seriously? beta propiolactone is a class 2 carcinogen and the severe adverse events listed are for inhalation and/or skin contact! How much more deadly do you think it is for injection as opposed to inhalation or skin contact? The LD50 (which is the amount required to cause DEATH in 50% of people who are exposed to it) is only 24 ppm for 4 hours. So, if only 24 ppm inhaled will cause DEATH in 50% of people, you think it’s ok to inject that in children? By the way CHOP is not a reliable source of information. They are afraid of nutritional supplements, even though no one has ever died from a nutritional supplement. On the other hand 100,000 people die each year from the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs. But CHOP still thinks they are just fine. Not very “evidence based” if you ask me.
Ld50 actually Refers to An animal (usually mice or rats). They don’t actually test it on people.
LD50 applies to humans as well, Mr. Crocker. Case in point, Radiological Medicine. Research first, please.
Actually, the EPA disagrees with you on the carcinogen claim and it’s used to sterilize water, milk, and other things. Do you have any evidence that the tiny amounts Do you have any evidence that the tiny amounts in influenza and rabies vaccines are in any way harmful? Or are you just assuming? I’m sorry to hear you believe an institutional as respected as the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Vaccine Education Center, run by a team of experts, is unreliable. You’re wrong, of course. The information there is carefully vetted and accurate.
CHOP has some good information. But, when they say that a child will “receive” more Aluminum from breast milk than from vaccines, I believe they are intentionally misleading people. If you account for the fact that most oral Al is not absorbed, you find that a child will receive much more from vaccines. This intentional deception might make people wonder about other assertions that they make. What’s it called? Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus?
Ok show test results for all vaccines and their ingredients , and please explain sudden deaths from vaccines tested for safety, please explain the billions paid out by the Vaccine court for death and injury from your ? Safe vaccines . SAFE , TESTED ?????
I’m sorry but the statement that vaccines are extensively research is misleading and untrue. Please point out the research papers on the current CDC recommended vaccination schedule. Please provide links so I may read that research. Not one double blind study has been done on injection babies with 6-8 vaccines at one time. Also, could you please provide the studies on the long term efficacy of these vaccines? The studies I’ve read indicate most of people’s immunity levels drop significantly as years go by, hence the recommended BOOSTER vaccinations. Please educate me with all of your studies!
No Dorit, vinegar and olive oil do NOT sound scary! Your condescension is really insulting. Again, do with your children as you will…I’ll do the same. Opinions are worthless, really, especially regarding this debate on whether or not to vax. I don’t debate anymore, your side is irrational. Bully mentality, mongering and self proclaimed authority. You have no authority here and I’ve made my decisions on 20 years worth of evidence. I’ve seen enough, and again, we’re just not into eugenics!
People can look those MSDS themselves and consider what they want. I am sorry to hear you are choosing not to protect your children. I hope herd immunity keeps them safe, in spite of that choice. I am glad to be doing my share, by protecting myself and mine, for their protection.
CALLING FOR A CEASE FIRE: Please stop citing herd immunity when using as an argument to support vaccination. All you need to know about herd immunity is it’s based on natural immunity, when the population all get the disease and recover - they will never get it again and new population are protected by herd immunity. Vaccines offer WANING and TEMPORARY immunity so unless individuals get titers testing you don’t know who is immune and who isn’t so you can’t assess the herd’s immunity to said disease. **Most every adult who I know has NOT had vaccine boosters in DECADES so we are all **gasp!** considered unvaccinated!** Vaccines are a joke! I’m educated and I know more than most people who vaccinate. Challenge given: Please research vaccines!
Herd immunity is a THEORY! That is all it is. I believe you have the choice to inject your children with known neurotoxins. I have healthy children, I feed them well, they are active, never had an ear infection, high I.Q and never drink fluoridated water. They’ve never been injected with anything. There piers, have had all of their shots, and are chronically ill. I’d love to see you verify your children’s vaccine records. My bet is, you don’t vax your children either.
You make the common misperception that people with absolutely no understanding of science make: that theory is weaker than your beliefs. Since you obviously don’t understand WHAT theory is, in scientific terms (and legal/judiciary), let me TRY to explain it to you. A theory is a set of largely provable statements, based upon the experience regarding the theory. That is a VERY simple way of describing theory. Theory does NOT mean “guess” or “hypothesis.” A theory is well supported facts used to make rational and reasonable predictions. The fact that you rely on no statements of fact, no accepted theory, or even rational science, makes your claims about vaccines even more spurious. I hope you are never responsible for your child’s death or someone else’s child dying. But bear in mind, if you choose not to vaccinate, and child in the same community dies from what you chose not to vaccinate for, part of that death is ON YOU.
Herd-immunity protects children with Leukemia who are too sick to be vaccinated and could die of something as common as chicken pox. Not vaccinating your children because of unfounded fears about the safety of vaccines is an absolute horror for those families. Do those children’s lives mean nothing to you?
Sullivanthepoop! Really? I don’t remember soliciting your two cents, which after reading what you wrote, appears to not even be worth two cents! Herd immunity is just a theory. Known neurotoxins is what is in a vaccine. I’m all about health freedom, help yourself, I hope you will one day take a look around you and see what the vaccines do. I don’t care how minuscule of an amount were talking about when you eat a chocolate chip cookie Sullivanthepoop, it might look like all chocolate, but what if after you ate the whole cookie, the baker told you there was a little bit of “poop” in the cookie? Would you eat another cookie from the same batch? Only an idiot would do so…the question is strictly rhetorical, don’t bother replying. Your two cents is the same smog and dance, eventually you resort to name calling and strong arming. I’m not here to do that, I’m simply giving a bold statement that other people who go after research, can see thee is an opposing side to the vaccine debate. There are millions of me. I’ve done my homework, and I’ve made my decision. I expose my children to the research I’ve gathered and now they go and share their story and people are interested in the non vax choice. When you inform someone there are exemption forms, they always run for it. No matter what policy, or mandates are passed or enforced, some of the parents who are like minded like myself, will simply go off the grid. Dorit, I find it quite disturbing that you stated how the state can step in and remove a child from a non compliant parent who chooses not to force their child with a government mandated health procedure. That is a crime against humanity and I pity the fool who ever finds themselves between my child and the car door. Foolish servant to lobby and make policy against good, informed honest people who just want the quiet and peaceable life. You are taking a baseball bat and swinging at a bee hive. Foolish foolish liberal.
The problem here Sunshine is you seem the think your anecdotal evidence (my kids are never sick, and others’ are always sick) is somehow a validation of your OPINION. It is not only incredibly narrow-minded, but lacks any sort of actual emperical evidence. You and the Jenny McCarthy’s of the world are destroying the public health that has taken dedicated and devoted scientists and doctors decades to build. There are MOUNTAINS of evidence, gathered through actual scientific testing, that shows the safety of vaccines in children. In fact, there is not a single study that shows there is a general danger to anyone from the standard regiment of vaccines. I say general danger, because some people do have allergies to certain chemicals in vaccines. I find it incredibly hypocritical that you berate Dorit for supporting medically valid, and tested facts, while you claim she has no authority. Where exactly is the authority you seem to assert so freely come from? How many vaccines have you tested for safety? What knowledge of the human immune system do you possess? As a scientist I find it incredibly alarming that people with absolutely no scientific training express doubts about the scientific process and community. Your air of superiority reeks of hubris and ignorance. I genuinely feel sorry for you and your children, which is why I am not trying to attack you but just present some flaws in your reasoning, not that you are actually going to consider them with an open mind. Oh and by the way, please step down from your soap box regarding the pharmaceutical companies. Although I freely admit they care more about their bottom line than most people, to suggest that this keeps them “pushing a vaccination agenda” is just preposterous and ignorant. Vaccines account for a TINY TINY fraction of their profits and in most cases are not very profitable. The US government price fixes most vaccines so that they are readily available to people of all income levels. The real money in pharmaceuticals is new patent drugs. No company is getting rich from vaccines and to suggest that this drives there use in medicine is, once again, ignorant. I could continue to poke holes in this “logic” you assert, but after seeing your “Foolish, foolish liberal,” comment it hardly seems worth the time. I understand that you found your answer and only choose to listen to evidence that supports it and deny anything contradictory as big pharma bullying the little guy. We scientists are not afforded such luxuries. I am really only posting this so that anyone who has read your unsubstantiated rants actually have a some informed dialogue. Also, can you explain why the dramatic rise in pertussis infections that have coincided with the rise in the unvaccinated children, has not shown a dramatic drop any afflictions you claim to be the result of vaccinations. If vaccinations cause people to get sick as your anecdote suggests, where is the corresponding drop in infections due to the change in vaccination levels? I’ll hold my breath while you search for a reason that I am a crack-pot paid by the pharmaceutical industry…
If it’s all about health freedom, why are you lambasting other people for vaccinating their children? They have the freedom to do that, as you have pointed out. You do your thing, we’ll do ours, and life will go on.
“Herd immunity is a THEORY! That is all it is.” Gravity is a theory, too. A scientific theory is something that has quite a bit of evidence behind it. Here is a list of studies showing the effect of herd immunity: None of the ingredients in vaccines is actually toxic in the tiny amounts in vaccines. The dose makes the poison, remember: anything can be toxic in large enough amounts. I’m glad your children are healthy. Again: they are lucky to live in a first world country where most people vaccinate, protecting them against diphtheria, HiB, polio, and so on. I hope their luck holds, and as I said, am happy to be doing my share for their protection by protecting my own child, who is fully vaccinated, schedule plus meningococcal.
Why you writes that diphteria vaccination generates herd immunity? This seems a scientific nonsense.
Dorit, sorry but some substances are toxic at any amount, and if you know science at all then you should know about synergistic effects. Also, the theory of gravity is a theory that has been revised and expanded on a great deal since it was first discovered. Finally, patients have the right to self determination. People should be able to opt out of vaccines without having to use an exemption other than, they choose not to vaccinate.
I cannot understand why anyone would believe that parents do not have a right to decide between accepting the consensus of medical researchers based upon years of research and observation and the claims of a discredited man who committed fraud and the supermodel who parrots his claims. Evidently, some people seem to believe that willful ignorance should not be afforded the same credibility that is given to scientific knowledge.
Dorit Reiss…if you love your children so much how about get off the internet and interact with them. Maybe reflect on your life a little. You must never have time for anyone. I find it really sad.
Excellent comment. hahah :) Oh whistleblower on the aP vaccine, it dont work :) Every baby infected in Australia last 20 years, has been infected by a aP vaccinated child, usually symptomless sibling. Took 10 years Australia, and USA, for the bacteria to go round and round and spread, right through that symptomless vaccinated herd. Then? Bout 3 years after last jab, vaccine fails, and they all get whooping cough. How can they not? the whole friggin vaccinated herd are carriers.
I only allow myself 30 mins a day. And I just wasted it reading all of this. Lets stop the debate. Make safer more efficient vaccines. End.
Everybody wants safe and efficient vaccines - that’s why so much effort goes into testing them: Before the vaccine gets on the market in the U.S., it goes through a multi-stage process that involves: A. Discovering the germ behind a disease and figuring out how to vaccinate. B. Animal studies of safety and effectiveness. C. Application for an Invesitgative New Drug license to FDA. Only at this point can human studies be done, and only at this point does the CDC described process start: This process involves: D. Three stages of clinical trials for safety and effectiveness, including in the last stage trials in thousands of volunteers over a period of years. E. Concomitant studies to show it’s safe and effective with the rest of the schedule. F. Approval by multiple committees in different institutions of placing it on the schedule - where safety, effectiveness, and cost are considered. No vaccine gets on the market unless the benefits far outweigh the risks: because vaccines are given to healthy children, the bar is high. That’s why the number of real serious harms is so low anti-vaccine activists have to resort to uninvestigated reports in VAERS ( to inflate them. Can problems arise later? Yes. That’s why we have: G. Post marketing surveillance - monitoring of doses given to millions of children, using multiple systems. H. Studies by researchers in universities. Nobody takes vaccine safety lightly. But when scientists look, they actually look: they do not make up problems that are not there, and they do not connect vaccines to problems when the evidence is otherwise, when the evidence is that vaccines do not cause them. Nothing is 100% safe - but this elaborate process helps minimize harms from vaccines and insure their benefits really, really, far outweigh their small risks. To remind you, a 2013 Institute of Medicine Report examined the evidence and concluded: “Upon reviewing stakeholder concerns and scientific literature regarding the entire childhood immunization schedule, the IOM committee finds no evidence that the schedule is unsafe.”
Please give me the reference of a randomized double blind clinical trial where the efficacy of hpv vaccination in prevention of cancer has been demonstrated. I do not accept the prevention of hpv (that is obvious) I want the proof of prevention of cancer because the vaccine is purported for that.
There is no extensive testing of vaccine batches. There are no guarantees that the vaccines are not contaminated with wild virus. My state has suspended some doctors privileges to vaccinate because the vaccines weren’t being stored properly and who knows how many people were vaccinated with defunct vaccine. Doctors give vaccines to sick children. My doctor insisted it was safe. I walked.
Dorit, You sound like a parrot! You can present your jargon just like that, but you know full well that for some vaccines, the public usage of the vaccines ar in some cases the actual study. I agree with one commentor above, that parents should be able to opt out of vaccines and need no waiver form. Health freedom is not a privilege. It is a given! I appreciate how this debate has evolved into definitive camps over the years, and I appreciate how the informed, and steadfast parent continuously and patiently try’s to educate the pro vaccine and willful ignorance. Still in the USA! there is health freedom.
As an informed and steadfast parent myself, I am disturbed that the 20-30% of people who agree with you are putting my children in danger as well as their own.
Sunshine, you keep claiming that you’re “informed”, and that Pro-Vax people are not, yet you offer absolutely no evidence to back up your claims beyond continuing to repeat how informed you are. Would you care to explain: A) How you are somehow more of an authority on this subject than actual scientists? B) Your evidence that vaccines make people sick? C) How the only people that seem to believe that vaccines are bad are people with no actual scientific training?
Fark Hates a You…name sucks! Die in a fire? This is what makes your side so dismissible. Wether we agree or disagree on vaccines, I think it’s not to audacious to say, it is a personal choice. Again, rudeness and insults are your last resort. Grow up.
Good grief quasar…I’m through presenting the pro vax camp anything. I’m not debating, arguing or going to sit here being barraged with the self imposed authority of anyone who is telling me that everything I say is wrong. I’ve had it and I’m just simply stating that at this point, it’s a personal choice. The notion that the pro vaccine camp would honestly use fear mongering, policy making and threat of the state to seize anyone’s child over being vaccinated or not, has absolutely no credibility. These vaccines, and these governments and pharmaceutical industry in all truth, if they had something so great to offer mankind, using the state, seizing children and strong arming parents wouldn’t need to be of concern. It’s hard to fathom your lack of understanding. Many, do not want your vaccines. I’ve seen over and over again vaccine damage, I know what I’ve seen, I know what my dr. Has shared with me and I know all that I have personally researched. When I share the specifics of what my dr. Stated, and what I’ve seen first, everyone who pushes vaccines, gives me ten reasons why I’m wrong or why I didn’t actually see, what I know I saw with my own two eyes. Never presenting evidence again.
Lady, your whole “pharmaceutical industry agenda” argument is even dumber than you are. They will wind up with far more of your money when your kids get sick from an easily prevented disease than they will from the pittance that the vaccines cost. The best way to keep money out of their hands, if that’s what your so bent on, is to vaccinate your kids!
I can’t help but notice you didn’t answer any of my questions.
I guess “Health Freedom” is the new buzzword, but the fact is that you’re part of a society and your choices to not vaccinate result in an increased risk of disease for all involved. It’s a “tragedy of the commons” problem played out with children - the negative externalities of your decisions aren’t usually born directly by you, so why do you care what happens to anyone else? It’s the same logic used by people who dump pollution or anti-global warming nutters. So, here’s my solution. Parents should be free to not vaccinate their children, but at the end of each year the medical expenses for all the diseases caused by non vaccination should be totaled up and split amongst those parents who refused vaccination. This would appropriately assign the costs to their proper owners and would quickly solve the problem.
So, basically what you’re saying is you don’t have any actual evidence, and you’re simply making an uninformed choice based on what you “feel”. I hope your foolish, uninformed choices don’t lead to your children getting sick with something serious.
Ahhhh, I can’t help you. The notion that I’m somehow responsible for a disease and now you think a solution is to have me pay up at the end of the year. Insane. How about EVERYTIME your child gets vaccinated, and my unvaccinated kid gets the disease your child expound them to. How about the outbreaks that have occurred among the newly vaxxed populous. You’ll come back siting how the kids that don’t get vaccinated are the problem, I already state that herd immunity is just a theory and I get back Dorit saying how gravity is a theory. Not even close to being in the same ball park. No matter what, I do not feel comfortable exposing or injecting my children with foreign DNA! I think you all are insane because you have absolutely no problem at all with injecting your children with foreign DNA! What more do we need to discuss beyond the foreign DNA?
So, you’re super concerned about injecting your kids with foreign DNA, but not concerned about the increased chance that the same foreign DNA (the disease itself) will infect your children? Herd immunity is a theory in the same sense that gravity or evolution or quantum mechanics is a theory. It is a well structured explanation of what we observe in reality that is testable and has stood up to prior tests of its validity. We eradicated smallpox based on the principles of herd immunity. We were on the verge of eradicating polio based on the principles of herd immunity before anti-vaccination conspiracy theories began emerging in African and Middle Eastern countries which has resulted in increased incidence of those diseases. Herd immunity isn’t absolute - if a vaccinated population is repeatedly exposed to the virus (as is the case when an unvaccinated child who may be infected but not symptomatic) then the virus can evolve to break through the immunity. The solution to this problem is to deny the virus the opportunity to spread by ring vaccinating around it when an outbreak occurs and to then establish routine vaccination protocols to prevent it from having an opportunity to regain a foothold.
Sunshine, when you’ve got a free moment could you recommend the best copper crystal orgone rig for breaking up chemtrails?
Tell it to polio.
Wow Fark….that’s nice! Chemtrails are real you can research it yourself. If you no anyone who happens to be in weather or is a former Air Force pilot, you could pick their brain, you see, I’ve already don’t this and made my decisions based on different criteria. When I speak to a man who was red Onside fir attaching canisters if barium salts in the airplane I tend to listen. When I see the trails start overhead, I actually take serious notice, because you see…I live in the Rocky Mountains and I live in the middle of nowhere, the norm is usually three to five planes a week flying overhead to larger city’s, but when the planes spray, there will 10- 12 planes flying high altitude in the same hour. It’s not my job to convince you, it’s your job to get your head thinking and testing everything against what you think you know.
STILE4ALY, your comments make too much sense for Sunshine to understand. Don’t you get it, she’s done RESEARCH!
Stile there is to much wrong with your statement. Polio was not nearly irradiated. How about the 47,500 Indians in India that were affected negatively by the very vax that was supposed to help them. Polio was dying out and the vaccine gave new life to the horrible disease. Polio in America only comes from the vax. You can call it what you want, but the paralytic like qualities after being injected and diseased, wouldn’t occurs had there been no one vaccinated against it.
There have been no cases of polio in India since 2009. The 47,500 Indians who suffered paralysis were infected with a non-polio enterovirus (NPEV). It didn’t come from the vaccine. The polio vaccine cannot cause polio. There is an extremely unlikely chance of a severe allergic reaction, but of course if you vaccinate billions of people then you’re going to get those occasional rare reactions. If you didn’t vaccinate, however, the damage done by polio would be massively worse.
Maybe we should have the chem trails spray vaccines. Kill 2 birds with 1 stone.
I’m sure her anti-vax rant is only the tip of the iceberg of derp she throws onto her kids. Assuming they survive to adulthood, I seriously doubt they’ll have anything to produce to the world other than billing hours from their numerous psychiatrists.
This. Thisthisthisthisthis. Thanks for that comment.
Nice try and no, I am not wrong! I’ve done my children a high service by not following the sheep and you know what, many parents are not following the sheep, or in this case I should say wolves. It is of absolutely in consequence that you find me to be such a thorn, I’m here, you’re there and in reality, we will never meet. The growing polarization regarding vaccines is unmistakable. It’s not just me as you would like to have people believe! I just think it’s absolutely horrendous that the pharmaceutical industry would take an aborted baby…aka-murdered, and use it in the manufacturing of anything to be injected into any healthy living thriving child or adult. Human diploid derived from a dead baby cell line us completely heinous and criminal. Buy you call it science and then you sit there on your pompous rhetoric and try to call me out saying my ignorance is no match for your scientific training. Whatever makes you feel good and whatever it takes for you to justify this cash cow and endless mandates. When in your narrow opinion will there be enough vaccines? When I was a kid, we had twelve….which my mother made sure I never received. Now my children are expected 69+ including gestational. To many, to soon and known neurotoxic ingredients.
She lost me when she said Chemtrails are real. It’s clear that she isn’t basing her decision to not vaccinate on anything other than misinformation and emotion. I hope your children live long enough to be able to make smarter choices for themselves.