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Video published December 16, 2010 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: Thirty years ago, whooping cough had nearly disappeared. Today, it's back. The epidemic has already killed 10 babies and infected thousands of children this year in California. KPBS and the Watchdog Institute at SDSU are working together to look at who’s getting sick, facts about the vaccine, and how public health agencies have responded.


  • Investigating Whooping Cough

    Dec. 16
    By Kevin Crowe, Watchdog Institute
    Investigating Whooping Cough

    For the past four months, KPBS and the Watchdog Institute have tracked the whooping cough epidemic across California and other affected states.

  • Ethical Concerns Over Whooping Cough Vaccine

    Dec. 15
    Ethical Concerns Over Whooping Cough Vaccine

    An investigation by the Watchdog Institute and KPBS has found that the two leading global makers of whooping cough vaccines have funded expert groups that recommend vaccine policy on the disease to government agencies.

  • Immunized People Getting Whooping Cough, Experts Spar Over New Strain

    Dec. 14
    Immunized People Getting Whooping Cough, Experts Spar Over New Strain

    Matthew Jacob Bryce was born a healthy baby boy, so when he showed signs of a cold at just two weeks, his parents knew something more might be wrong.

  • KPBS And Watchdog Institute Investigation Questions Efficacy Of Whooping Cough Vaccine

    Dec. 14

    Why is a disease that was nearly extinct 30 years ago, finding its way back not just in this state, but in other parts of the country as well? A four-month investigation by KPBS and the Watchdog Institute, a nonprofit investigative center based at San Diego State University, has found that many people who have come down with whooping cough have been immunized. We'll hear the details of the investigation.

  • Whooping Cough Has Sickened Thousands, Is The Vaccine Working?

    Dec. 10
    Whooping Cough Has Sickened Thousands, Is The Vaccine Working?

    California is experiencing a whooping cough epidemic, the worst in 60 years. Ten babies have died throughout the state and more than 7,000 people have become sick, nearly 1,000 in San Diego County alone. KPBS and the Watchdog Institute at SDSU have spent the last four months investigating this epidemic and two of the reporters, Joanne Faryon and Kevin Crowe discuss some of their findings.

  • CDC Looks To California For Whooping Cough Vaccine Study

    Nov. 9
    By John Sepulvado, California Capitol Network

    Federal Health investigators are looking to California to see if whooping cough vaccines are effective.

  • How Well Do Current Vaccines Protect Against Whooping Cough?

    Sept. 7
    By Alison St John, Megan Burke

    We'll discuss the seriousness of the whooping cough epidemic and we'll hear what public health officials have to say about the protections vaccines offer.

  • Is Whooping Cough Vaccine Working?

    Sept. 7
    By Joanne Faryon
    Is Whooping Cough Vaccine Working?

    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.

  • Vaccinated People Getting Whooping Cough In SD

    Sept. 7
    By Joanne Faryon

    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.

  • Whooping Cough Strain Changed Over Decades

    Aug. 27
    By Joanne Faryon

    The whooping cough our parents -- or even grandparents -- were exposed to is probably not the same whooping cough now causing the worst epidemic in California in 50 years. The Centers for Disease Control has confirmed six of the seven cases it’s studied so far have been caused by a strain which produces more toxins.

  • More Parents Not Vaccinating Kids

    Aug. 24
    By Joanne Faryon
    More Parents Not Vaccinating Kids

    The number of parents choosing not to vaccinate their children for kindergarten enrollment in California has nearly quadrupled in the last 20 years. A report by the San Diego Watchdog Institute examined immunization data in California for the past two decades. The report found a growing number of parents sending their kids to school without state-mandated immunizations.


Avatar for user 'sheldon101'

sheldon101 | December 20, 2010 at 12:30 p.m. ― 8 years, 11 months ago

This is a bizarre series of articles that manages to ignore the important questions when it comes to vaccines.

Assume the strains of pertussis have become more virulent. Is there evidence that the existing vaccines are less effective against these strains? Or is it merely that if you get the disease, the results will be worse than if you got a different strain. One set of answers leads to more vaccination. The second to the consideration of a different vaccine.

The authors also ignore that there isn't one vaccine for pertussis with a sngle strain, such as measles where more attenuated Edmonson strain is used. The earlier whole virus pertussis vaccine (still used in parts of the world) was made by killing and then filtering the bacteria. With acellular Pertussis, the bacteria and its toxins are busted apart and then each vaccine maker selects the components and the amount of each component to use. Current vaccines in the US have between two and five components.

Rather than merely pointing to vaccine makers who want to keep selling their existing vaccines (which anyone looking at the CDC price list would realize that they don't make much of a profit per unit), the researchers could have actually researched the status of pertussis vaccine research around the world and discovered its status.

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Avatar for user 'cuibono'

cuibono | January 6, 2011 at 8:45 a.m. ― 8 years, 10 months ago

Two pertussis experts are featured in the documentary, James Cherry and Frits Mooi. Cherry is American and Mooi is from The Netherlands. They have differing ideas about why immunized people are being diagnosed with whooping cough.

Vaccine makers may not make much money on each unit of pertussis vaccine, but they sell a lot of units.

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