Tuesday, September 7, 2010
A KPBS investigation has found that nearly two out of three people diagnosed with whooping cough in San Diego County this year were fully immunized. California is in the midst of the worst whooping cough epidemic in 50 years. The numbers raise questions about how well the vaccine works.
SAN DIEGO A KPBS investigation has raised questions about how effective the whooping cough vaccine is in preventing people from getting sick. Nearly two out of three people diagnosed with whooping cough in San Diego County this year, were fully immunized.
California is in the midst of the worst whooping cough epidemic in 50 years. Thirty six hundred people in the state have been diagnosed with the disease. Eight babies have died since January.
KPBS examined data from San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency. Of the 332 confirmed cases of whooping cough in the county so far this year, 197 of the people who got sick were up to date with their immunizations. That's nearly 2 out of 3 cases.
Dean Sidelinger is the county’s deputy health officer.
“It’s a little higher then we expected, but certainly we do still feel the vaccine provides protection and it’s an important health tool to try and prevent this disease.”
Research in the Netherlands suggests the bacterium which causes whooping cough, or pertussis, may be mutating and contributing to whooping cough outbreaks worldwide.