Of particular concern regarding Pertussis is that Dear Son has never received a Pertussis vaccine. Dear Son has recieved all of his vaccines however when Dear Son had seizures at birth and at that time, the Pertussis vaccine was never given for infants or children with seizures. Instead, they recieved the DT and not the DPT vaccines; as a result, he has never been immunized for it. I would assume this would put him at a greater risk for Pertussis. I pulled Dear Son’s immunization records to verify if he had ever received the vaccine just to be sure and he had not.
- If Pertussis was a larger risk for seizure kids who have never been vaccinated?
- If they were seeing any Pertussis cases in the ICU at Big Academic Medical Center?
- If he should he continue going to school even if there aren't any cases due to his history?
Since I was concerned, I thought I’d contact the Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases (ID) at Big Academic Medical Center (BAMC). I had some questions and figured he would be my best resource for general information regarding Pertussis since Dear Son would most likely end up in the ICU if he came down with something. I wasn’t sure if I should contact Dear Son’s Pulmonary Doc since Pertussis is a respiratory issue or his Neuro and decided to start with ID since that is his specialty and due to Dear Son's complex medical history.
We had a nice conversation and he said that currently, they do not have any Pertussis cases in the ICU. I was glad since I know that once they start seeing cases pop up, it presents a bit more of a risk since our county typically mirrors cases in that county. We also talked about the Pertussis vaccine as it relates to children with seizure disorders. He explained that for a long time the Pertussis vaccine was not given to children with seizure disorders since if was assumed that if the child got a fever related to the Pertussis, it would bring on more seizures. A review of the data did not bear that out however. You have to keep in mind that Dear Son is currently 19 years old and the consensus at the time was the Pertussis vaccines were not given to children like him.
He went on to explain that the Pertussis vaccine that is given today is vastly different from the one that was given years ago. Back then, it was a whole cell vaccine (dead pertussis) that was given. Currently, a different type of Pertussis vaccine is given. It’s now an Acellular Pertussis vaccine, where they use purified proteins of the bug. The new vaccine is much safer for children.
While we were on the phone, I also talked to him about vaccines in general. I must say that the more I read, the less comfortable I feel about vaccines in general. On the flip side, Dear Son has some significant health issues and I can’t afford to make a wrong decision where his health is concerned. I said that it’s been my experience when I talk to a traditional physician regarding my concern over vaccines, they seem to feel that vaccinations are better than not being vaccinated however these are traditional physicians and not alternative based physicians. He talked a little bit about vaccines and then referred me to a book written by a friend of his, Dr. Paul Offit*. Dr. Paul Offit wrote the book, “Autism False Prophets” where he defends vaccines. Dr. A (Section Chief at BAMC) used the example of people’s concern over mercury in vaccines and it’s link to autism. He said that mercury was removed from vaccines however the scientific data showed that autism cases actually increased after the removal, not decreased. He went on to say that the amount of mercury that was in the vaccines, was less than that in a can of tuna fish.
I asked that since Dear Son has a progressive neurological disease if the Pertussis Vaccine was recommended. He explained that there isn’t any right or wrong answer. It can be done or you can choose to skip it, and that it is a personal choice. He also referred me to a Nurse Practitioner at Big Academic Medical Center; she holds special immunization clinics and will review the data with you and answer your questions to help you make a decision regarding a particular immunization for complex medical cases.
He also referred me to the National Network for Immunization Information. This website can be found here. He said it was an excellent resource for immunization information. I checked out the website and it provides science based information for healthcare professional and parents alike. If you click on the category heading at the top labeled, “For Parents”, it will provide you with information and contraindications for each vaccine. I found this information helpful.
12/6/10 Update: I contacted the neurologist's office today and Dear Son's Neuro does not recommend the Pertussis vaccine. The reason is that if he gets a fever, it would lower the threshold for seizures (Dear Son has intractable seizures, has a VNS and is on multiple seizure meds.). It's the only vaccine he does not recommend. We will follow his advice.