A new study in the scientific journal Pediatrics has shown that the vaccine for whooping cough loses efficacy over time. Whooping cough (also known as pertussis) is covered by the DTaP vaccine, a shot which also protects against diptheria and tetanus.
The typical vaccination schedule for children calls for the shots to be given at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, between 15-18 months and upon school entry age (approximately 4 to 6 years old). It is recommended that all children who are able, receive these vaccines according the schedule.
The results of the new study that was released showed that delays in this vaccination schedule can result in a significant increase in the chances of contracting the illness. This is because the vaccine fades over time, which is why the schedule calls for the multiple doses.
The study was conducted by Kaiser Permanente Northern California. It showed that the the risk of contracting pertussis increased along with the amount of time that elapsed since the last dose. The study found that the vaccines themselves were effective, but that the effect they had on preventing the illness simply fades over time.
Whooping cough is risky for kids because of complications that come along with it. Whooping cough often appears like the common cold, but ends up with the child producing mucous that blocks the airway, leading to a hacking cough that often makes a "whoop" sound as the child gasps for air. Whooping cough in infants can lead to other serious medical conditions such as pnemonia, difficulty breathing and seizures. As a person ages, their risk of serious complications from pertusssis decreases.
This study shows the importance of vaccinating your children according to the recommended schedule to ensure that they are properly protected from the illness. All five doses are scheduled for when the child is quite young and the most vulnerable to contracting the illness and succumbing to the complications that can arise from it. Whooping cough can be potentially deadly for very young babies, and so having the vaccine is a better option than not having it. If you have concerns about your child's vaccination schedule, it is best to consult your doctor for more information.