Was the Whooping Cough Epidemic Caused By Unvaccinated Kids?

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Was the Whooping Cough Caused by Unvaccinated Kids

Now’s the time to consider protecting yourself and your kids with a vaccine from the next whooping cough epidemic…. Or is it?

Pertussis (a.k.a. whooping cough) is nasty cough from bacterial infection of the respiratory tract that spreads by coughing and sneezing. It often starts out like the common cold but can become a life-threatening infection, particularly for infants under the age of one.

The vaccination for pertussis (included in the DTaP vaccine with tetanus and diptheria and the booster known as TDaP) has gotten a good deal of press in light of the recent ‘epidemics’.

Last year’s whooping cough outbreak (2012) was reported as the worst since 1955 – blamed by much of the media on the growing number of children who haven’t received vaccinations, especially in California.

As a Californian mom and holistic health practitioner that works with kids, these allegations concerned me – so I decided to do some research of my own.

First off, I wanted to know…

Is pertussis really on the rise?

This may seem pointless to question – after all, numbers can’t lie, right?

But after spending hours sifting through numbers and charts, there are some interesting things I learned.

First of all, there are two different numbers that are thrown around at the convenience of the story tellers: mortality rates and incidence rates.

Due to increased hygiene, medical care, and public sanitation, it makes sense that infectious disease has been in general decline since the turn of the last century, but I was fascinated to see that most of the drop occurred far before widespread use of the vaccinations.

You can see in the graph below that deaths from pertussis have been on the decline for over 100 years (and similar reports are available for most infectious diseases with the exception of AIDS).  (source)

From HealthSentinel.com (click image for link)


This next graph, from the CDC website demonstrates the incidence of pertussis since 1922 through 2010. In the mini-graph, you can see the spike in whooping cough in 2005 and 2011 and the general rise over the course of the last decade.  Gulp…

According to the CDC, before the introduction of the pertussis vaccine there were an average of 175,000 cases of whooping cough each year. This dropped off to less than 3,000 cases per year in the 1980s. Then, in the U.S. alone, a total of 27,550 cases of pertussis were reported in 2010. The whooping cough outbreak in 2012 (not included here) reported 41,880 cases.

Why is this pertussis resurgence happening?

Dr. Anne Schuchat, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases explains that:

“Better diagnosis and reporting of whooping cough may be contributing to the increased numbers, along with the fact that the disease tends to peak and wane in cycles. It does not appear that anti-vaccination sentiment among parents has contributed…”

Interestingly, despite the high number of reported cases of pertussis last year, the mortality rate has gone down. In 1955 there were total 331 deaths. In 2012, there were only eighteen reported deaths, including 15 infants younger than 1.

So is pertussis on the rise?  Maybe, maybe not.


Newer vaccine is less effective and wears off faster

In the 1990s, a switch was made from the DTwP (diphtheria-tetanus-whole cell pertussis) vaccine to the DTaP (diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis) vaccine to reduce side effects including pain and swelling at the injection site and less common “adverse brain effects”.

In a large-scale study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, kids who received the DTaP vaccine had higher rates of whooping cough than those who got the DTwP vaccine. (source)

A very recent DTaP vaccine study from the Oxford Journal Clinical Infectious Diseases demonstrates that vaccine efficacy is shockingly low, and varies greatly with age: 41% for toddlers and preschoolers and 24% for elementary age kids. These numbers make the pertussis vaccine one of the least effective vaccines on the market. (source)

Eighty-one percent of 2010 California pertussis cases under the age of 18 were fully vaccinated children; and in a pertussis outbreak in Texas, the CDC statistics show that 81.5 percent of cases were fully vaccinated.

It seems as though this new vaccine may have traded in potential side effects for less efficacy and less longevity.

To make matters worse, there is evidence that there’s a new “super strain” of the pertussis bacteria. This resilient bacteria is thought to be partially responsible for the resurgence of whooping cough, and it is particularly resistant to the DTaP vaccine. (source)

The CDC’s solution to these problems is to give more doses and more boosters for their inadequate vaccine. Good plan?

Here’s another point to consider…


Some Outbreaks of “Whooping Cough” May be Due to Pesticides NOT Bacteria

Before I get into this, here’s my disclaimer: I scoured the internet for more studies and data to prove this, and there’s just one – very interesting- report about the correlation between pesticide spray zones and whooping cough outbreaks.

That said, ALL of the deaths from the 2012 whooping cough epidemic were Hispanic infants living in areas where there are many Latino farm workers exposed to pesticides.

Also, ALL of the counties in California that have had pertussis outbreaks also have pesticide spray programs.

The pertussis outbreaks in California typically occur between June and August – which is also just so happens to be the season for pesticide spray programs and peak outdoor air pollution.

The diagnosis for pertussis is usually based on symptoms, not germ diagnostics – Is itnpossible that these infants were not infected with the pertussis bacteria, but developed a respiratory condition from pesticide exposure that was misdiagnosed?

Even if pesticide spraying is not directly responsible for these cases of whooping cough, it stands to reason that those who allegedly contracted this disease may have had suppressed immune function from being exposed to pesticide spray.

Certainly we need more information to definitively draw a clear conclusion.

Was the whooping cough epidemic due to parents choosing not to vaccinate?

It doesn’t seem likely.

Was it due to a poor vaccine, a super strain of bacteria, and environmental factors?

The CDC says yes.

Do you vaccinate for whooping cough?

Why or why not?

Learn about natural treatment for whooping cough symptoms here.

This post and others on vaccinations are not meant to be a substitute for your own thoughts and research. Vaccinations are (thankfully still) a very personal choice, and I urge all parents to consider each vaccine and the pros and cons for your individual child.












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  1. says

    Awesome analysis, Emily! Those mortality/incidence graphs are very telling, but I think there is another aspect that completes that story. Vaccinations activate Th2 (humoral) function which suppresses cell-mediated (TH1) function. Cell-mediated immune function is what creates inflammation, fever, etc in an effort to cleanse the body from an infection. In other words, cell-mediated function is what makes us feel bad.

    According to some experts, the fact that vaccinations stimulate TH2 function while suppressing TH1 indicates the very strong likelihood that individuals still get infected, but their immune systems are unable to respond with inflammation – what we usually call “getting sick.”

    My guess is that the incidence of infection around 1950 remained about the same, but since the TH1 response was impaired few children had full-blown symptoms. While this may seem like a good thing, it appears that in the long-term this approach may trigger autoimmune disorders and possibly even cancer (robust TH1 function is required to perform “seek and destroy” missions for rogue cancer cells within)

    Regarding adults getting the shot to provide a cocoon of safety for young children, some may find it of interest that a recent Cochrane review (which is well respected, independently funded and officially connected with the World Health Organization) found no evidence that another often recommended vaccine (the flu shot) prevented virus transmission. Food for thought!

    A recent Cochrane





    • says

      Yikes, I didn’t mean to make it sound like I was trying to “school” you, Em! I was in a rush to leave for an appointment and just wanted to jump in the conversation! Great work, again. I can’t believe how well you managed to consolidate all that data in to such a clear analysis.

      • says

        THANK YOU, Heather for your comments and for being such an awesome researcher! The TH1/TH2 concept is fascinating and makes so much sense. And the Cochrane study is just what I was hoping existed. That whole “caccooning” idea has never sat right with me, but I never had any good reason to deny it – until now. THANKS!!!

  2. says

    Emily! Thank you, thank you, thank you for so eloquently presenting the data on the whooping cough epidemic. Last year Dr. Nancy Snyderman, the health correspondent for the Today show went on air saying, and I’m paraphrasing, that unvaccinated children are the equivalent to walking typhoid Mary’s. I was livid at the characterization of unvaccinated children in this light and which shows how little she really understand the vaccine safety and efficacy issues. Many vaccines do not offer 100% effectiveness and can be dangerous. I have chosen not to vaccinate my children for this reason. While I love the idea of protection from disease from vaccines, I question the safety of the delivery system and the effectiveness vs. risk to the baby or child.

    • Tara says

      Hi guys,

      I am completely torn about this vaccine. I have a 5 month old daughter… When she was three days old she received a HEP B vaccine. Later that night, she just “fell asleep” during a feeding, stopped breating and turned blue. Now had I laid her down right away, not noticing the symptoms , surely she would be an AKA “sids” baby. After that it happened again the next day and we immediately took her ot the hospital. She stayed two days and they found nothing wrong with her. Since then i’ve done very thorough research and many kids have died from the HEP B but especially the DTAP. I have not gotten her any other shots except pcv13 becaues I was pressured. Recently our Dr. said I was putting her in danger by not getting the dtap but i’m so afriad it’s going to kill her!! Not only that but i’m almost more afraid now she will catch the whooping cough! I’m a nervous wreck and can’t enjoy my new little girl because I keep thinking she’s going to die. Any advice? I’m in North Carolina.

      • Ema says

        Hi Tara!
        I’m expecting a little girl in less than a month and am also experiencing these fears, and pressure from doctors! I am right there with you! First I will give you this link, for one possible perspective to adopt. http://countercultureliving.com/i-will-not-make-decisions-based-on-fear/ I’d also like to say that we as inhabitants of a fallen world are subject to some hurts and tragedies. It’s our duty to educate ourselves, be wise, and make the very best choices we can with the info we have access to. Therefore once your gut and your conscience tell you something based on your limited knowledge, you need to stand up for that decision. You don’t owe your doctors or society an explanation for your decision. All the have is your conscience and your family. Good luck and I hope your little girl grows up healthy and vibrant!

        • Melanie says

          Hi Ladies.
          I have 2 children, and my pediatrician is great she does not pressure me to get these vaccines. I vaccinated my son until he was about 18 months old. He would just get sooo sick after receiving them, he had high fever and would not play or anything for nearly 2-3 days. These vaccines contain mercury, which we all know is NOT safe for us humans. After him getting sick for his 18 month shot, I said enough was enough. He is a happy healthy kid. My daughter who is now 14 months old has NEVER been vaccinated and won’t be either! I want to be honest with you ladies, of course the doctors are going to pressure you to get these vaccines and its not because they want your children to be healthy and less sick. The big pharma companies makes billions off of these every year, these vaccines for most pediatricians are their bread and butter. For most doctors I am afraid it all comes down to their bottom line, they want you to vaccinate or find yourself a new doctor.

          • Natalie says

            Hi Melanie, and the rest of you moms,

            The only vaccines that contain mercury (in the form of thimerosal, which is used as a preservative), are some multi-use vials of influenza vaccine. You can completely avoid thimerosal by requesting a single-use vial of the influenza vaccine, or the intranasal spray form of the influenza vaccine.

            Simply put, there are no other vaccines that contain mercury.


            As far as fever or soreness that may occur following vaccination, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be very effective in reducing fever and pain. My son’s extreme discomfort following his second set of vaccinations was relieved very well by children’s Tylenol. I gave him Tylenol before his third set of shots, and he had no problems. His fourth set of vaccinations were done without Tylenol before or after, and he did not show any signs of discomfort.

            My son is a happy, healthy child, and will continue to receive all of his scheduled vaccinations.

      • Lauren says

        Tara- I felt that way when my baby was just born as well. But, for me, the risks of vaccinating totally outweighed the benefits. And especially in your case where your daughter has already had a reaction to a vaccine. In my opinion, your pediatrician is just trying to bully you into it! They profit from your child getting vaccinated. Remember, you can always choose to vaccinate, but you can never choose to un-vaccinate. So my advice would be to just relax, and take your time making up your mind. She’ll be okay, just don’t expose her to people/kids if you aren’t sure if they are completely healthy. My daughter is 7 months now, and I got pressured into getting the hep b a week or so after she was born, but since then she hasn’t gotten any other shots and she is so healthy and happy!

      • Julie M. says

        Hi Tara:

        I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through that with your child! I wanted to point out a couple of things for you to consider.

        First of all, once your child has had a reaction to any vaccine, you should be very very cautious about vaccinating further. You need to find a doctor who takes this concern seriously, not one who brushes it off. You, more than the average person, NEED a pediatrician who is willing to acknowledge that vaccines do have serious, sometimes life-threatening side effects. Otherwise, you have someone who is pushing a one-size fits all agenda, rather than treating the tiny human sitting before him or her. You also have to look at your family history. If there’s a history of any auto-immune dysfunction, or even something as simple as eczema in you or your husband, you should be very very cautious. Your child may not be a good candidate for vaccination at all. It could make all the difference in the world.

        Second, I was surprised that this article didn’t mention the study that shows people who are vaccinated with the DTaP might actually be MORE susceptible to the wild, so-called super pertussis strain, or to being a carrier, which strikes a blow to the heart of the so-called “cocooning” strategy to protect newborns by vaccinating all the people around them. Here’s the medical journal article on this. http://www.cidd.psu.edu/research/synopses/acellular-vaccine-enhancement-b.-parapertussis

        In the olden days, people talked about the “100 days of confinement” where mother and baby were isolated as much as possible to protect them from illness. I truly think that isolation is the best way to protect newborns. It’s not convenient, but it is safer! Also, we had a hand washing policy in our house with the baby that anyone who walked through the door, the first thing they did was to wash their hands. We posted a sign and no one ever questioned our request!

        Good luck. Please, please take your experience seriously! Find a REAL doctor who understands that some people are much more sensitive to vaccines than others and who will help you make a smart decision about this!

      • susan devens says

        We got the Whooping Cough, me and my 6 kids, last year. We all had been vaccinated and we STILL got it. My kids got the antibiotic and I started showing signs a week later. I started to cough on a Friday-really bad. A friend sent me an article on Whooping Cough and it said to take high dosage of Vit. C. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try. I took 6,000 to 7,000mg of Vit. C and by Sunday my cough was gone! I never needed to go to the doctor for the antibiotic. I am also a new fan of Vit. C! So, buy a BIG bottle of Vit. C chewables and your little one should be fine.

      • Amy says

        Hi Tara. You may want to have your daughter tested for a genetic enzyme mutation called MTHFR. I have read nearly ONE THIRD of our population has it. It has to do with the methylation pathway….if a person has it, their body doesn’t convert folic acid to folate AND their body cannot rid itself of toxins….like in vaccines! I have even read a statistic that as high as 98% of children with autism have mthfr, and I have read all over the Internet that f your child has mthfr then not to vaccinate. I am homozygous for the c677ct mutation, which means my 6 month old daughter is at least heterozygous for it too…..we stopped vaccinating ( she had only received two). The test is simple….just a blood sample. Just wanted to pass along for anyone. It was extremely eye opening to me!

      • amber rose says

        remember children can still get it even if vaccinated…and sometimes it helps me to remember we could die a million other ways any day..so i think the fact your little one almost died from the poison of a vaccine already…i would stop with the shots and love yourself and her up with healthy foods and good vibes…
        i feel for you as i can totally relate with the fears we go through with the responsibility of making decisions for something we love beyond words….many blessings momma

  3. Hilary says

    Thanks! This is very interesting. I was wondering if there is a way to get access to the UCLA study about DTaP mortality. I have seen it referred to before, but have never seen the study itself.

    • says

      Hi Hilary – Thanks for your comment. I am embarrassed to say that I cannot find the study either, so I have removed that statement from the post as to not spread misinformation. It seems as though the study was quoted and re-quoted online without a source, and any studies that are somewhat relevant, do not show this data.

      • den says

        tara run for your life!there has NEVER been a long term study on childhood vacs[BARBARIC].I went through the same torment,decided to opt out of ALL vacs.my son is now 9 & has been the healthest i have ever seen!His life has consisted of less than 7 low grade fevers,THATS IT! Do the research,you will find TONS of other stories just like mine.There has even been a few studies in other countries that the unvac were far healthier in EVERY catagory [right down to the common cold] than the vac population!BUILD THERE IMMUNE SYSTEM!The only REAL defense.

  4. Tonya says

    Many thanks for researching this hot topic. I did get the DTAP injection after I delivered our 8th child last June. The RN who gave it to me said I did not have to go through with it. I had been pressured by other RN staff to absolutely get this vaccine before leaving the Hospital.
    I live in a Pesticide spray zone and had 2 children fully vaccinated in the 90’s who both got Pertussis when they were very young and again in the Summer a few years ago. I just don’t see how the Pesticide cause could be valid for us due to us all getting it after my oldest son was coughing for a week and started keeping us up at night and allergy’s was his diagnosis. We all took antibiotics and it took several weeks to get over it. Neither of our outbreaks were correctly diagnosed or reported.

  5. Melanie says

    This particular vaccine hits super close to home. I’m not really anti-vaccine for myself, but will consider that bent when I have children in the future. BUT, I have always been 100% anti-pertussis vaccine. The “adverse brain effects” happened in my family. My uncle was a perfectly normal baby until that vaccine, when he developed epilepsy and other brain damage. My oldest sister was given a quarter dose and had severe swelling at the injection site that she received no other boosters, and my other sister and I never received it at all. I however, am due for a tetanus booster (again, I’m not completely anti-vaccine), but my current doctor refuses to let me get tetanus by itself, even though it is offered. She claims my chart says I have always had the pertussis vaccine. I know, I have not. So, I remain un-vaccinated for pertussis. It irks me to no end that there could be other causes for the “outbreak” and the “outbreak” isn’t caused by the un-vaccinated. I had never once been pressured to get pertussis, doctors used to just believe me about our families history, but now that there’s an “outbreak” I am viewed as a walking petrie dish. (I could go on for hours…) But thank you, for offering another perspective. There is always more than one side to a coin.

    • I says

      Melanie – your doctor isn’t telling you the whole story. The T booster is no longer available by itself in the US. That’s probably the reason for the pressure to have the bundle shot.

    • Stefani says

      Melanie, I also had a “very rare” (according to the CDC) reaction to the “booster” when I was 7. I went temporarily blind from it on the way back home after getting it – everything went solid white though, not black. Shortly after, I started having seizures, which continued until I was almost 13. I never put 2+2 together with the seizures until just this year because I was unaware of such side affects with vaccines. I am 100% positive it was caused by the booster. The doctors could find no physiological cause of my “epilepsy” and in fact just diagnosed it as epilepsy because they had no other answers. Also, every time I had a seizure, I got severe muscle spasms and was just reading today that is also a side effect. The CDC says the chances of the “very rare” side effect of long term seizures is less than one in 1 million vaccinations. All I can say is, I wish I could have that luck when I play the lottery 😀

      • Stefani says

        I forgot to add that because of the allergic reaction of the blindness, I cannot get that vaccine and haven’t had it since that time and I “magically” quit having seizures one day. The same thing happened to an old friend though I am not sure if it happened in correlation to this vaccine or not but it would be interesting to find out.

  6. anon says

    I did read your article with an open mind until you cited the one study study re: pesticide exposure/pertussis incidence – from the vaccination liberation website. Seriously?! One must keep in mind the source of the information and their biases. Plus, correlation does not equal causation. Neither does anecdotal evidence equal causation. The field of medicine uses the scientific method for a reason. Pretty soon you’ll be citing NaturalNews dot com as a source of accurate information. Sheese.

    • says

      Hi “anon” – I understand your need for the scientific method which is why I included that bit of information with a blatant disclaimer. Source and conclusions aside, I felt like there were some pretty compelling facts to consider regarding the demographics of those who were diagnosed with pertussis and those were reported dead from it.

      For example, the FACT that those who died of pertussis were under the age of 3 months and Hispanic does influence my own decision about vaccines whether or not a direct conclusion can be drawn.

      You are certainly correct that correlation and does not equal causation, which is why I conclude by saying, “Certainly we need more information to definitively draw a clear conclusion.”

      That said, I think anecdotal evidence is a perfectly good way to stimulate thought, conversation, and future research.

      • says

        Great job with this post, Emily. It is very true that “correlation does not equal causation,” and that it is useful for coming up with hypotheses for clinical testing. The victims of pertussis in the source cited (I am not familiar with it and have only glanced at it so far) being Hispanic may only mean that their families were poor, they were without adequate nutrition, or some other confounding factor that isn’t obvious at first glance. We can’t know from the information reported. So, as you said, we just have to do more research.

        Thanks also to Heather for your contributions! I am following these issues avidly. I have spent many, many hours reading pro- and anti-vaccine articles and posts, and many hours poring through CDC statistics myself. I never came to a firm conclusion then just put it all on the back shelf a couple of years ago, but recent reporting like yours and Heather’s has been very illuminating and I’m delving into the topic again. I do think it is possible and likely that persons on both sides of this debate have good and true points, and others have misread the data or made unwarranted claims, but we just have to keep asking questions and reading and researching and testing things for ourselves. (I have come to the conclusion that I won’t vaccinate my animals anymore unless required by law. Good nutrition and lifestyle seem more effective.)

        Meanwhile, you and Heather do some of the best reporting I have seen, Brava for you! And thanks for sharing. I put several quotations from this post up on Facebook.

      • Diema says

        I think the article is perfectly appropriate in stimulating thought and consideration on all points given within.

  7. Natasha says

    Here’s something interesting: I took my son to the doctor solely for the reason of being diagnosed with whooping cough so I could treat it effectively. She refused to diagnose, and she refused to test. All she would do is prescribe antibiotic. I told her I’m not giving him an antibiotic without a test. She told me if I don’t give him antibiotic he should go to the hospital. I asked why, is it that serious, could it be whooping cough? She shrugged and refused to comment.
    Either way, I treated him with vitamin C and when that didn’t seem to be working I took him to an herbalist/acupuncturist and as long as he took the herbs he sounded much better. It lasted ages and was awful. And I still wouldn’t vaccinate.

    • Lina says

      Hi Natasha, I have had similar experiences with doctors. Very frustrating and sad, it seems like they do not care about people’s wellness at all…

  8. stephenny says

    This is my first time at your site, coming from a link via The Healthy Home Economist on Facebook. Although I find the information and content strong, I have to say I am surprise by the many typographical errors I have been finding as I’ve perused various other articles, in addition to this one. I encourage you to proofread your work to strengthen credibility. Otherwise I am greatly encouraged by your writing and look forward to no longer vaccinating my children as the pile of evidence against vaccinations grows.

    • steph says

      Hello, you may want to proof read your comments before you post too! I see some mistakes! Don’t judge others, as your not perfect yourself. Do you see your “typographical errors “? They are there!

    • Melissa says

      despite stephenny’s misspelling, I agree with what she said, and appreciate that she said it tactfully. I always hesitate to “share” an article if said article seems to be weak in the proof-reading department. First way to increase credibility is to be able to say what you need to say with good grammar and spelling!

    • Tara says

      WOW…. get off your high horse… I’m pretty sure you are the only one here who is a jerk enough to comment on grammatical errors in light of the subject. Shut your mouth.

  9. april says

    10 years ago when my oldest children were sick the doctor said it could not be whooping cough because they had been vaccinated ..they did not test…..its was “croup” first and when it reoccured in one of them “athsma”….here are some steroids and anti biotics. Now they accept the vaccine is wearing off (if it was ever effective) and pushing a booster for all…so all thoses same cases are just now being tested .
    Changing the diagnostic criteria is the cause of this “epidemic” …

  10. J Warren says

    As a mom of four who has had each child fully vaccinated without incident, I try to understand the train of thought of putting your kids at unneccessary risk. Death statistsics may be low, but if it’s your child, I don’t think statistics matter at all.

    • Melinda says

      As a mom of 2 who were vaccinated and then again vaccinated after my son was off chemo, I think I put them at unnecessary risk by vaccinating them. I have heard of more people getting these illnesses in my practice, and they have all had the immunizations. Good nourishment is what they need for a healthy future. At least they never had the teenage vaccines, I am thankful of that. It might not be a coincidence you found this sight.

      • Korey says

        I’m all for good nutrition, but nutrients did not eradicate diseases like Polio. The anti-vac movement is a dangerous one.

        • Sarah says

          Kory, have you done research on the eradication of polio? Please show us the source that claims this. I would love to see it as I too am trying to make an educated decision. I have found many sources that claim the exact opposite, polio was on the decline before the polio vaccine existed. Also do your research on the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines. Both claim
          that the other actually cause outbreaks. I recommend you read books written by Neil miller which give excellent documentation and history of the polio vaccine. Have you done your research on the after effects of polio vaccine? Google mercks audio admiting that their polio vaccines contained diseased monkey kidney cells containing sv40 cancer causing agents and they also admitted bringing aids into the country. Also, polio is not eradicated, it shows up in many milder forms now including, but not limited to chronic fatigue syndrome. I truly understand that everyone has a right to their own opinion, but unless you have done your research, please refrain from making comments to sway people’s decision.

    • says

      J Warren, It seems clear to me that in the vast majority of cases in this country where children aren’t vaccinated, it is not because the parents are lazy or stupid or don’t know they’re supposed to vaccinate or are indifferent to their children’s welfare. In fact, surveys show that better educated parents are on balance more likely to not vaccinate, and unvaccinated children tend to come from educated homes. That doesn’t prove it was the right choice, but I think assuming parents are putting their kids at unnecessary risk by not vaccinating is not warranted. It’s a serious decision that parents come to after much thought and study, in my experience.

      And, your case of four children vaccinated without incidence is no more scientific evidence, in and of itself, than that of a parent with four children unvaccinated without incidence. These are data points that alone tell us nothing, other than the effect of either vaccinating or not vaccinating is not 100% negative in all cases, because we have incidence of positive results in both situations.

      • ks says

        Thank you! As a parent who eventually chose to cease vaccinating my babies, after one of them had serious reactions to vaccines, I am ridiculed and scoffed at by people who have not taken the time to read or research. It was an agonizing decision and we took it very seriously. One factor that helped us decide is the fact that I was a stay at home mom and they would not be in daycare. We also ended up homeschooling through 8th grade. We believed we were being very responsible with our decision. Now they are both in college and are working in good jobs and pretty healthy. My one child who had the terrible reactions to vaccines ended up being diagnosed with celiac a few years ago. I don’t know if there is any relationship but her system was always more sensitive than her sibling’s system. Everyone is different and there is no one size fits all vaccine solution.

      • Sarah says

        I couldn’t agree more. I believe vaccines had their place and were a wonderful thing at one time, but I believe that dollar signs win the war. My kids are two and four and I am still on the fence, I have not chosen not to vaccinate,yet. But they have received no vaccinations at this time. I have poured myself into researching both sides for four years now and still have no decision, but I do know that I am extremely happy that I have not put my children at unnecessary risk by vaccinating them. I feel sorry for parents who don’t know to ask questions and don’t take the time to do the research then later have a vaccine injured child. Too many people rely on their doctors opinion. I once asked my ped if he ever did any research himself and he replied no he has not. I knew then it was time for a new ped.

    • Tara says

      A vaccination nearly killed my daughter and the DTAP especially has killed thousands of kids. Check VAERS… and your facts…

      • Mary Richter says

        Sadly VAERS reports are brushed off by pro vaxxers because most of the reports are from parents who they say are not experts. I posted the following on another article.I and my husband got a 5 year old, 8 pound toy poodle from the shelter. They gave him one year shots when we got him. Rabies and Bordetella (kennel cough-similar to whooping cough). One year later I took him to the vet for the shots. They gave him a 3 Bordetella shot. That night he had his first seizure. He foamed at the mouth and his legs went out from under him. His eyes could not focus. Since it was 8 at night the vet was closed and I had to take him to an animal hospital. The vet there gave him a cortisone shot but at that point the seizure had stopped. The seizure lasted about an hour and scared the heck out of me. The seizures started at once a month and progressed to 2 x a week. The vet put him on Phenobarbital and he has been on it ever since (6 years). He has been to 3 vets and only one would admit that his brain was overstimulated from the shot. No one could convince me at this point that the vaccines did not do this to him.
        Someone who claims to be a nurse on Long Island brushed me off with “A lot of dogs have seizures.” Her statement is true but I still find it hard to believe that he got his first one at 6 years 5 hours after his vaccine. And I believe that so called nurse is a troll

  11. Rae says

    My 8 month old nephew, 16 year old son and asthmatic husband all had whooping cough last summer . We took care of it with herbs and natural remedies. The 8 month old had regular appointments at the acupuncturist after having been seen at the pediatrician. (After pertusis “hooks” into the lung, antibiotics are useless so they were not given.) No repercussions, no big issues, just a nasty long lasting cough. Worth the risk of a vaccination? HECK NO!

    • Melinda says

      Rae, You might consider adding Buteyko Breathing method to the herbs and natural remedies. It works for asthma and many other issues. And another tool to use when any lung related illness does come up even coughing.

    • VE says

      Why put your child through that? They would not have been sick if vaccinated. What herbs will cure polio, tuberculosis…

      • Alyssa says

        The tuberculosis vaccine doesn’t work well at all. I know a few people that contacted TB in Africa that were all vaccinated before going. Its not commonly recommended anymore, according to my doctor. And did you read the point she makes above that in the outbreak in Texas, 81.5% of the cases WERE vaccinated? So they were not only unprotected from it, but they also then exposed themselves to the very real risks of the vaccine.

      • Nancy says

        Actually about 80% of pertussis cases are in vaccinated individuals. Vaccinating does not mean that you will not get the condition.

        • KT says

          I am having a hard time finding the research that states 80% of pertussis cases are already vaccinated. Can anyone point me to the documentation? I would like to quote this but need the resource to back it up!

      • Julie M. says

        You didn’t read the article. Vaccination is not good protection from pertussis, when over 80% of cases are in VACCINATED individuals. The point is, the vaccine doesn’t work well and it carries some very serious possible side effects. Whooping cough is an illness, not a death sentence.

        People are terrified of illness and utterly unconcerned that we may very well reach a point where the cure is actually more dangerous than the diseases. We have epidemic auto-immune illness in children out there right now. Stuff that wasn’t seen in the 80’s, like adult diabetes in kids. Coincidence? Maybe. But we won’t ever know because they NEVER do any long term safety studies of vaccines. They test for immediate reactions only. So a true cost/benefit analysis is not even possible under the current system.

        We’re all just winging it, and trusting giant corporations to have the very best interest of each tiny, fragile little baby-customer at heart. Corporations care, right? That’s why they’re in the vaccine business. And that’s a great way to run public health policy, too — just let the drug makers manage all the surveillance. Worked great for the banking system! And who needs to test for long-term side effects, right? Or drug interactions between different vaccines that might be given together. Gosh, the drug makers already do the minimum safety testing of their own product, as it is. Why burden them with more testing they don’t want to do? So inconvenient. And who cares if there’s a minority of the population who are more vulnerable to vaccine side effects? As long as it’s not MY kid who gets hurt by the vaccine, I can enjoy the protection afforded by forcing those vaccines on everybody!

    • Rae says

      PS… the “heck no” was meant for the vaccination… a MUCH bigger risk than contracting whooping cough in my opinion. As the percentages show above, vaccination doesn’t guarantee protection anyway, and often can come with many unknown, potentially life altering side effects.

  12. says

    Hi Squid!

    This is a really fantastic article! My kids came down with whooping cough in the summer of 2010 here in the south-east US. My older 2, who were fully vaccinated, came down with it first, and passed it to my younger two. The baby was only 7 months old.

    My husband and I finally realized what they all had, so we took the baby to the Pediatrician’s office. We talked about his symptoms after he was examined, and the family history of the other kid’s illness, and he *really* didn’t want to talk about pertussis at all with me. He told me that the CDC was currently out of the diagnostic test kits, so he couldn’t really diagnose it anyway.

    He halfheartedly offered me an antibiotic, but I’d done my homework, and knew that the baby was already in the second stage of the disease, which pretty much rendered the antibiotic useless.

    So I came home, and researched my tail off, and found herbal remedies that worked amazingly well for us…I share them here:

  13. Sara says

    Such an interesting article Emily! I live in WA state and there has been a recent “outbreak” here, and the fear level is high. My son, born in 2010 so almost 2 now, received a Dtap shpt at 2 months and another at 5 months, even though we wanted to do a very restricted (if any) vac schedule with him, at least until one year old. My naturopath at the time convinced us to get just the Dtap shot, and he had no reaction to the first one. The second one, at 5 months, he received the Dtap and also a Polio.. I had made the decision not to give him more than one shot per office visit, but the doc we had to see that day was a pro-vac MD and very very very condescending and she (after about 20 minutes) convinced me to get both that day. “You don’t want him to get polio, believe me”. He had a reaction, i think, and has never slept the same since.
    Anyone have any related info to sleep and vac reactions?
    Thanks again for this great article:)

  14. Em Walker says

    Great article! My two cents are this and I tell everyone about our experience when whooping cough gets brought up. When whooping cough hit eastern Nebraska in late spring/early fall of 2012, I had my two nephews here, and my two boys. My nephews were here a lot for several weeks.
    My oldest nephew can’t have the vaccination due to allergies, my youngest nephew has the vaccination. So, imagine everyone’s surprise when my youngest nephew turned up with whooping cough! And the oldest NEVER caught it! My oldest child had it before I knew a bit more about what we put in our bodies and I thought all doctors knew best. My youngest did not. My youngest never had a symptom, my oldest again the one with the vaccination, got a short lasting cough before he was treated with an actual antibiotic – which I had no say in, since I had it for 2 months myself!

    The point is, I was really glad to see an article that wasn’t spouting more fear mongering and half truths. I found you through the Healthy Life Summit today, and as a mom who has 2 children with Eczema I just want to say THANK YOU! For your video and for all that you’re doing to get all this information out there. It is most sincerely appreciated!

  15. Abbey says

    I see this is an old post, so you may not monitor these comments. But, I am hoping you do! I live in Oklahoma and we had an infant die last year from Pertussis. He was not hispanic. I say this because I’d like to know where your data came from that says “ALL” pertussis deaths were hispanic infants in spray zones. Was his case not reported, or was his case ignored by the source of your data?

    • Suzanne Alexander says

      Abbey, I don’t know if you were skimming the article when that caught your eye, but the source AND the paragraph you cited state that the data was limited to reporting from the state of California.

      So technically, yes – the case was ignored by the data source, since it wasn’t part of the data set.


      Thank you for a thought provoking article. I want to give a bit of advice to “patients-” please consider yourself “clients” when addressing your medical team. You pay for these services and money talks. If you are feeling bullied, pressured, disdained, or treated with condescension, empower yourself. Report the ones in HMOs to their patient advocates. Seek a PPO or private pay provider who understands your concerns and is willing to discuss alternatives. There is no excuse for misanthropes practicing medicine on the vulnerable – the ill, the weak, and most of all, our children. Getting rid of the bad doctors means fewer needless expenses (antibiotics for pertussis, etc) through which the medical insurance companies can justify raising care costs and denying alternative treatment that really works.

    • says

      Hi Abbey – I am so sorry for your loss. As Suzanne mentioned, the outbreak I was referencing was in California where all of the deaths were Hispanic infants in spray zones.

  16. Nancy says

    My family was affected by the pertussis outbreak in 2012. Myself and my 3 children (5 months, 3 years and 5 years) all tested positive for pertussis. I was concerned because my 2 older kids had a VERY minor cough, there was an outbreak in SW Ontario where we live and I had an infant under 6 months who are the most at risk. I have also NOT vaccianted my children. I had gone to the Ped Dr and was turned away and went to the ER three times before I got them to give my children the test. When they finally diagnosed the baby with pertussis I was treated like the devil. This after me actively seeking treatment for my child and being turned away not once but 3 times. In speaking with the Public health nurse in charge of our case, she told me that over 80% of the cases were in VACCINATED individuals. She had also commented to me that my UNVACCINATED children had the most minor symptoms of all the cases!! They only ever had a slight cough for a very short time. A little worse in the baby but still very minor. I know correlation does not equal causation but I can’t help but contribute that to the fact that my kids were exclusively breastfed, recieved chiropractic care, homeopathic care and were not pumped full of toxins/vaccinations. I do not regret my decision to not vaccinate!

  17. Karen says

    Thank you for this post. I am 28 weeks pregnant, and my doctor wants me to get the Tdap booster to give both myself and the little one inside of me immunity. I thought I had more time to research vaccinations before I had to make a decision like this! So thank you, this was good food for thought.

    A couple thoughts/questions I had about your post. I don’t know if you can answer them or not, but they were questions that were raised in my mind. (1) You write that about 80% of the pertussis cases involved vaccinated children. I am curious to know if that breakdown matches demographics or not. For example, if 95% of the children in the area were vaccinated, that would suggest that the vaccinated children had a lower probability of contracting pertussis. On the other hand, if only 60% of children in the area were vaccinated, the opposite conclusion could be made. I would really like to know that data.

    (2) Is there a difference in mortality rates between vaccinated and unvaccinated children who contract pertussis?

    (3) What is inherently wrong with vaccination? It’s one thing if they simply don’t work. But I am assuming that anti-vaccination advocates have a bigger reason for not wanting their children to be vaccinated. I have just started researching this topic within the past week. I don’t entirely “get it” yet, and I would love to have a better grasp of the issue. I don’t even know what books I should turn to in order to learn more. I ordered Dr. Sears’ Vaccination book from my library, but am not sure what other books are out there that I should look for.

    Anyway, you certainly don’t have to address my questions, but I thought I would post them anyway. Thanks for your analysis and time that you devoted to the topic.

    • Rachael says


      I have the Dr. Sear’s book, though I’ve mainly used it for reference, and Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent’s Guide, by Aviva Jill Romm. That one was invaluable–the author goes into disease history, vaccine history, mortality & morbidity rates, etc. My read of her is that she is cautiously skeptical of vaccines, but she does a good job of giving you the info. and allowing you to make the decision. In the reviews I found parents who liked the book and fully vaccinated their kids on the CDC schedule, those who did not vaccinate at all, and those who chose a selective and/or delayed vaccination approach (which is what our family chose). I think the 2 books together will give you a good idea of the issues and allow you to make an informed decision that you feel comfortable about.

  18. EC says

    We were recently exposed to pertussis by two different kids (one fully vaccinated, one not at all) within the same week before they knew they were contagious. We were in very close contact with both kids for an extended period of time. I made sure everyone in my family had high doses of vitamin C as per Dr. Humphries’ protocol – the families with active cases both said the vitamin C had a noticeable beneficial effect on the cough. None of us came down with it. Other families in the community did develop coughs but dismissed the idea of pertussis if their kids were immunized. It leads me to believe that pertussis is vastly underreported, especially among the vaccinated. And it also gives me another reason to keep up with the fermented vegetables when summer vitamin C rich foods are out of season!

  19. Christina Waldman says

    In 2000, the Srugo day-care study in Israel found that people vaccinated with pertussis became carriers of the disease, infecting others. I also found that any immunity conferred by the vaccine was short-lived, maybe only 2-3 years. Pertussis has not been a vaccination success story. Suggested citation: Srugo I, Benilevi D, Madeb R, Shaprio S, Shohat T, Somekh E, et al. Pertussis Infection in Fully Vaccinated Children in Day-Care Centers, Israel. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2000, Oct [date cited]. Available from http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/6/5/00-0512.htm

  20. curious2 says

    I am curious where the “That said, ALL of the deaths from the 2012 whooping cough epidemic were Hispanic infants living in areas where there are many Latino farm workers exposed to pesticides” came from? I checked all the sources (although hastily) and didn’t see that info. Also how many deaths were there? Thanks

    • MommyInterrupted says

      Here is my experience with pertussis. I have two kids who are both unvaccinated. The youngest one caught pertussis (he’s one) and the oldest didn’t (he’s 5). They both shared the same cups, straws, food, etc. (we all did) but thank God my eldest (who has mild CP) or neither of us parents contracted it. I believe my youngest was more susceptible since he had pneumonia earlier this year. It was such an ordeal to get him tested and diagnosed, even being unvaccinated. Three calls on three different occasions to the nurse, a visit to his pediatrician who diagnosed him with allergies or a small cold, a visit to an urgent care who agreed to test after finding out he was unvaccinated but they didn’t have test swabs available, and then another visit to another facility. I can imagine how many undiagnosed cases are really out there and also how many unvaccinated children are tested versus how many Vaccinated children aren’t. Hmm?

  21. NaturalMom says

    Whooping cough literally swept through our community last year, and those who were vaccinated got it right along with those who were unvaccinated. My two children contracted a small cough, and I made a simple marshmallow root and thyme tincture for them. I dosed them up every hour or two, and the cough was gone within three days. I don’t know for sure if they had Pertussis, the clinic I went to to have them diagnosed said it would take 11 days for the test to get back, so I thought I’d save my money. Instead of paying well over $100 for a test that would have been useless by the time we received the results, and instead of paying $100 for a five minute doctor check up, I did my research, and went to the health food store and came away paying under $10 for everything I used. I shared this tincture with my neighbor who’s little girl had been ambulanced to the emergency room because of the severeness of the whooping cough. Because she was on an antibiotic, the mother couldn’t mix meds, but used my tincture on her other coughing kids. She had the same experience with them as I had with my kids, they got rid of their coughing right away. Other people had kids with violent coughing and puking fits that lasted up to 6 weeks. They were on the antibiotic. Personally, I’m glad I went the route I did, I KNOW my children were heavily exposed to Pertussis. But this isn’t something that can be documented, because they weren’t diagnosed.

  22. Tara says

    Hi guys,

    I am completely torn about this vaccine. I have a 5 month old daughter… When she was three days old she received a HEP B vaccine. Later that night, she just “fell asleep” during a feeding, stopped breating and turned blue. Now had I laid her down right away, not noticing the symptoms , surely she would be an AKA “sids” baby. After that it happened again the next day and we immediately took her ot the hospital. She stayed two days and they found nothing wrong with her. Since then i’ve done very thorough research and many kids have died from the HEP B but especially the DTAP. I have not gotten her any other shots except pcv13 becaues I was pressured. Recently our Dr. said I was putting her in danger by not getting the dtap but i’m so afriad it’s going to kill her!! Not only that but i’m almost more afraid now she will catch the whooping cough! I’m a nervous wreck and can’t enjoy my new little girl because I keep thinking she’s going to die. Any advice? I’m in North Carolina.

  23. Scott Dennison says

    I know this is a fairly old article by internet standards, but there has been a very important update on this, from a study done by the F.D.A. It’s being published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and is now available. Essentially, a study of the whole-cell and acellular vaccine showed exactly Heather@MommyPotamus mentioned. Especially the current aP vaccine causes an incomplete immune response that supresses the immune system’s response, preventing symptoms from being displayed. However, colonization of the disease still occurs and can be spread for longer periods of time compared to the naturally immune response. The evidence proves that the vaccinated are carriers that can infect everyone else, regardless of their awareness to it.

    This is a very vital link in the vaccination studies and really needs to be expanded upon!


  24. mrsclark says

    Thank you for your well-researched article! My 17 year old daughter was unvaccinated and this June she developed a cough that wouldn’t go away. For almost 2 months I repeatedly took her to the doctor every two weeks, and they kept saying “oh it’s just a lingering cold.” As the cough got worse, she got worried and finally told me “Mom, something is really wrong. This is different.” and her doc finally swabbed her for pertussis and strep. The doctor pretty much bullied her into getting a TDap. I told her at 17 and as a very scientifically minded kid it was her body and her decision at that point, but I thought it was a very bad idea. The doctor wanted to give her TWELVE vaccinations immediately that day to catch her up- while she was already sick!!! I put my foot down then and also refused to take her back to that doctor. Her doctor told me everyone in the family should start antibiotics prophylactically for 5 days. When I called my doctor, his nurse laughed at me and said if my husband and I were vaccinated (in my 20’s) we would be fine, that would be silly to take unneeded antibiotics.(Which I appreciate) But a week after she got vaccinated, I started coughing. I ended up a few days later in the ER at 3 am because I absolutely couldn’t breathe. They started me on antibiotics and gave me breathing treatments, but never actually diagnosed me with whooping cough. I got a call from the CDC a few weeks later asking about my kid- when I told them I had it too, they were very surprised the hospital did not swab me, or report my case.I explained to her how Kaiser was refusing to diagnose either one of us without us really throwing a fit. It is January now and she is still coughing at night sometimes, but not the paroxysmal, choking cough that she had for 3-5 months. That only went away after herbal immune boosters. Mine lasted about 2 months. I don’t know if the vaccination made hers last longer, or if it caused mine (once again, correlation and causation not the same.) I know taking the herbal immune supplements correlate to the end of her acute symptoms. Since she has still been sick, she hasn’t gone in for any more shots.
    When she got sick, I really re-thought my vaccination decisions and felt so guilty that she was sick. I thought maybe I made the wrong choice. I’ve re-vamped up my research on the subject, and I still think I made the right choices, especially for the vaccines available in the mid-90’s before most of the thimerosol was removed. She has multiple allergies and autoimmune diseases run very strongly in my family, and I have warned her to make wise choices and not trust corporations or studies done by or sponsored by corporations. I can only hope she makes the right decisions now, whatever they may be.

  25. Tianna says


    Your article was very informative and has helped reassure me that I have made the right decision to not vaccinate my son who will be two this year. I have been doing research since before he was born and was appalled at the huge increase in vaccines since the 70’s and also neurobiological, auto-immune disorders. The longer I wait the more data has been released linking the two (vaccines & neurobiological/auto-immune disorders) I refused to vaccinate my son when he was born but he did have the dTAP at 2, 4, and 6 months because I was pressured by family, friends, and my doctor because there was a huge outbreak in Washington state. I will not be doing anything else. They are now making it harder to keep your kids unvaccinated by requiring parents to take a class in Oregon. The FDA needs to be gutted and policies rewritten without pressure/money from pharmaceutical companies. Parents need to stand up for themselves and their families. Do what’s best for you not what’s best for the pockets of the government, pharmaceutical companies, and doctors. It has become apparent they only care about lining their pockets not the health and safety of the American citizens.

  26. Jocelyn says

    Hi, thanks for your article. This is an interesting study: http://www.cidd.psu.edu/research/synopses/acellular-vaccine-enhancement-b.-parapertussis

    It suggests that vaccinating against B. pertussis (the current practice) with the acellular DTaP vaccine makes one more susceptible to B. parapertussis, which is a “cousin” of pertussis and presents with the same symptoms. Parapertussis used to be rare, (which is why no one has developed a vaccine for it), but is becoming more common due to the natural shift that happens in infectious diseases. The pertussis vaccine does NOT protect you from parapertussis, and actually sensitizes you to it, making you MORE likely to get “whooping cough”, namely the parapertussis strain. Certainly not every case of diagnosed “pertussis” is cultured to distinguish it from “parapertussis,” so the rise in “whooping cough” could very well be related not only to pesticide spray but also an increased penetration of B. parapertussis, for which there is currently no vaccine….

  27. Sherri says

    Hello ladies,
    I admire and appreciate the effort you put into researching complicated and personal topics.
    I would like to put in my two cents’ worth as a physician and a mother.
    Vaccines help the body develop antibodies, so that they are present at the time of infection. This helps the body be ready to fight the infection, should it occur.
    I have seen babies with measles and pertussis because they were not vaccinated. They were very sick. Did fine with supportive care, thank goodness.
    The idea of herd immunity is one of caring for the people around you. If most people are vaccinated, then a kid or two without a vaccine are safe, because there isn’t anyone who has the disease; therefore, the unvaccinated person won’t contract the disease.
    Unfortunately, if enough people make the choice of not vaccinating their child, at some point there are enough children who are not protected, that the disease will enter the group. Then, all of these unvaccinated children are at risk; and the general population, whose vaccines may have started to wane, are at risk as well.
    As far as measles, (MMR) vaccine. I know this isn’t the topic of discussion, but I will mention it, just in case anyone didn’t hear the news: the researcher that told the world that it caused autism admitted that he made up all the research. Yes, he made it all up and he admitted it.
    Well, I just thought I would chime in, since I am in the middle of writing a policy for dealing with the pertussis epidemic in California. We are trying to come up with a strategy to take care of all these sick babies, and we are running short of resources; so I, and a group of other physicians, are working on ways to rally resources to deal with the crisis.
    Thank you for listening.
    Dr. Sherri

  28. Molly says

    In your “about me'” section you say you have a degree in creative writing, since you’re a holistic doctor I was curious if you also have a medical degree and where you went for it? I feel it would be an important thing to mention because it would boost your ethos.

    • says

      Hi Molly, thank you for your comment. I am a Licensed Acupuncturist and have links to my clinical practice throughout the website. Thank you for your concern.

  29. Me says

    I have 3 girls, ages 17, 12 & 2. I have never vaccinated them and NEVER will. I didn’t even receive all mine when I was little. My husband didn’t get any of his. We are all healthy. My girls have never even needed antibiotics yet. Some years we don’t even get a flu or cold….like this year none of us got sick. Not all years we get so fortunate but this year was a good year. We treat everything we get naturally. Not saying we would never go to the doctor if we really needed to. We just don’t go over viruses that can be treated in better ways than using prescription drugs. Parents need to decide what to do with their family’s health, NOT doctors or politicians.

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