Earlier this month Stacey Black submitted a letter decrying the whooping cough vaccine, but her assertions are untrue. The whooping cough vaccine is a safe and effective.
Statements like “78 percent of the people who caught whooping cough in Lane County this year were fully vaccinated” are meaningless without including more demographic information. For example, suppose that out of a population of 100,000, 100 people develop pertussis. Seventy-eight of those people were vaccinated and 22 were not. If we assume a 90 percent vaccination rate, that means 9000 people in that population are vaccinated, and 1000 people are not vaccinated.
78 divided by 9000 = 0.87 percent of the vaccinated people got sick
22 divided by 1000= 2.2 percent of the unvaccinated people got sick
A much higher percentage of the unvaccinated people got the illness, showing the vaccine has efficacy. This demonstrates why statements like those made by Black are not helpful in determining vaccine efficacy, and how out of context, they can be misleading.
Black is also concerned about formaldehyde in the vaccine. Formaldehyde is used to inactivate bacterial products and decontaminate the vaccine during production. Most formaldehyde is then removed from the vaccine. Formaldehyde is a naturally occuring compound and the small amounts that circulate in the bloodstream far exceed the amount in a single dose of vaccine.
All in all, the pertussis vaccine is safe, effective and helps protect our children from a potentially deadly, contagious disease.