Whooping Cough Vaccine Loses Effectiveness

Whooping cough is surging back in the United States. And it’s partly due to a safer but less effective vaccine.

The vaccine for whooping cough — also known as pertussis — was first widely used in 1948. The vaccination quickly helped to reduce the number of whooping cough-related deaths in the country. But it came at a cost — rare but serious side effects such as seizures.

In response, the government developed another pertussis vaccine in 1998 considered far less likely to result in negative reactions. But this new vaccine traded effectiveness for safety.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared in 2014 that California had experienced epidemic levels of pertussis. The CDC also noted that the United States has experienced a rising number of cases in the last decade. There were more than 29,000 cases in 2013, the most recent year on file. There were just under 8,000 in 2000.

“It does work,” said Nicola Klein, co-director of the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center in California, of the vaccine. “It just doesn’t last long.”

A 2013 study in the medical journal Pediatrics confirmed that conclusion. The study compared young children who had received four doses of the older pertussis vaccine against those who had received four doses of the new vaccine.

The study concluded that children who received the new vaccine were six times as likely to come down with whooping cough as those who received the old vaccine.

The new vaccine was developed with the intent of causing fewer unwanted reactions. But like any medication, all vaccines can pose side effects.

Usually they are mild, such as redness at the site of injection, a headache, or a fever. But in rare cases, serious side effects can occur.

One possible side effect is Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration. This side effect occurs when the needle used to administer the vaccine damages a patient’s shoulder.

If a healthcare worker injects a vaccine too high up on a person’s shoulder, SIRVA can result. A patient can also suffer from SIRVA if the needle over-penetrates the deltoid muscle. This usually occurs if the patient is underweight or has a low body mass.

Folks who contract SIRVA can experience any number of symptoms. Usually they include frozen shoulder, limited range of motion, or arm pain. Sometimes surgery is necessary to fix the damage. Those who experience SIRVA often report having no pain prior to the injection.

But there is help for those who suffer from SIRVA — or any other serious side effect from a vaccine. It’s called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Created in 1988 by Congress, the VICP offers financial compensation to those injured by vaccines.

The VICP covers numerous vaccines. For the most up-to-date list, visit the vaccine injury compensation table on the website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The government developed the new pertussis vaccine in order to reduce the rare possibility of serious side effects. But this is a possibility with any vaccine. For those who suffer side effects because of a vaccine, the VICP is here to help.


If you have suffered from a negative shot reaction, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, CIDP, shoulder pain, or any other illness subsequent to receiving a vaccination, please contact an attorney today. Vaccine attorney Leah Durant is available to provide you with a free telephone consultation. This vaccine attorney is a seasoned litigator whose practice is dedicated to serving those injured by vaccines.


Categories: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Guillain-Barre Syndrome (Flu GBS), National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration or SIRVA


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