Is a weaker vaccine to blame for Washington whooping cough outbreak?

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is spiking in Washington state, with a total of 341 cases reported statewide so far this year, compared to 57 reported in 2014 during the same time period. A public health official has blamed the surge on a weaker vaccine.

Walla Walla County Public Health Director Harvey Crowder told the East Oregonian that the whooping cough vaccine was changed in 1997, and by the mid-2000s, vaccinated people started coming down with the illness.

"For whatever reason the vaccine doesn't provide long-lived immunity," he told the paper. "We're going to see this again and again every three to five years until we get a vaccine that is longer lived."

The vaccine was changed because a previous concoction could trigger fevers and seizures in some children, according to the report.

Despite the problems with the vaccine, vaccinations "are the best tools we have for preventing pertussis," according to communication from the State of Washington Department of Health. Because infants are at highest risk of complications and death from whooping cough, the health department recommends that pregnant women get the vaccine during the last trimester of pregnancy.

More articles on whooping cough:
Infection control in the US: 2014 year in review
Whooping cough spreads in Wisconsin
Whooping cough epidemic rages on in California

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