Anti-vaxxers rejoice! You got another one!

14 Mar

DANA Elizabeth McCaffery died at 4 weeks of age from Whooping cough, a totally vaccine preventable disease. She was the first to die from this appalling disease since 1997.

Local Paediatrician Chris Ingall said:

“The only way to stop babies getting infected with whooping cough is by vaccination, there is no other way,”he said.

“The vaccination rates on the North Coast are the worst in Australia. This is why we have so many incidences in this area compared with other parts of Australia.

“Parents should be alarmed, whooping cough kills little babies. We must get our vaccination rates up so adults don’t pass the disease on to babies.”

The local health authority acted responsibly by bringing forward the vaccine schedule – a move that many anti-vaxxers will be horrified at no doubt.

Meanwhile, over in Kittitas Secondary School in the United States, the local health authority:

…is requiring postponement of all field trips and scheduled activities or events that include other schools, school districts, and/or family members of students.

Why? Because of Whooping cough.

As of Thursday, March 12th, there have been 24 cases of Whooping Cough in Kittitas County; 21 of these cases have been Kittitas Secondary School students or staff members.

In addition to those who tested positive over 150 Kittitas County residents have been tested for Whooping Cough since the beginning of this outbreak…

And still more elsewhere in the US:

Two elementary school students in the Stevens Point School District are recovering from whooping cough…

and yet more in the US:

The warning comes after two students in the district have been diagnosed with the potentially fatal bacterial infection. The health department would only say they are elementary aged students and were being treated.

How terribly sad and tragic that the same situation is playing out across so much of the affluent world – kids dying of vaccine preventable disease – because a few idiots think they know best and are willing to put the lives of others children at risk, when in the third world countries people are still dying by the tens of thousands from vaccine preventable disease and are desperate to get ahold of vaccines.

Once more I’m shamed by the actions of those in the so-called autism community who perpetuate this ridiculous nonsense at the cost of the very lives of babies.

24 Responses to “Anti-vaxxers rejoice! You got another one!”

  1. Warhelmet March 14, 2009 at 22:02 #

    I saw my sister go through whooping cough as toddler and I’m unsure whether or not it caused her developmental problems.

    I can understand why it is a killer. Watching someone cough and cough and cough until they they turn blue in the face.

    Pertussis is a bad do.

  2. Kev March 14, 2009 at 22:13 #

    It is indeed. I’ve always found it tragic (if we take the stance their beliefs are – lol – correct) that some people I know would rather expose their child – and other peoples children – to things that can kill them than to autism.

  3. _Arthur March 15, 2009 at 00:05 #

    Too many too soon ?
    The very purpose is to vaccine the children as soon as practical, when the immunities inherited from their mother waxes.

    Waiting till a kid is (??) years old is a terrible strategy, and not based on science.

    In this case, Dana Elizabeth is likely to have contracted her whopping cough from ANOTHER unvaccinated adult or kid.

  4. David McCaffery March 15, 2009 at 01:09 #

    Dana is my daughter. She IS so beautiful. I’m in tears as I write this.PLEASE INNOCULATE. Don’t let others suffer what we are going through. It’s total devastation & heart break.

    Governments & health regulatory bodies need to provide support to families by providing information & medical vaccinations tothe whole community. We received nothing. The GP didn’t suspect whooping cough, even though there’s an epidemic here, our birthing doctor & hospital didn’t warn us of risks.

    I’m a school teacher and had to run a carnival 2 days after my Dana was admitted to Lismore Base Hosptial. I sought advice from the Australian & NSW health department to see if I should, as the nurses & doctors there said I should stay away from kids till the antibotics provided made me germ free (this was a precautionary measure my whole family had to do).

    The NSW health representative on the north coast didn’t seem too concerned about about me still going. THEY WERE WRONG!! This virus is a killer, not some simple cold or flu. There needs to be a review of the advice & procedures across the board. Action, not debate needs to take place.

    My Dana can’t benefit from this, but babies & families must have action now, to keep them and those they love safe & in their arms. NOT saying goodbye in grief & sorrow in a church.

    I LOVE MY LITTLE GIRL and only wish I could hold her now, safely in her daddy’s arms.

  5. isles March 15, 2009 at 01:21 #

    Mr. McCaffery, thank you for commenting. The rest of us resent the anti-vaccine activists for largely abstract reasons but your family has suffered the worst possible harm.

    I am so sorry for the heartbreak that has been brought upon you. We will continue to stand up against those who seem to think a few cases of pertussis are no big deal.

  6. HolfordWatch March 15, 2009 at 01:53 #

    Mr McCaffery, what a moving and dignified comment. I’m sorry for the loss of your Dana and my thoughts are with you and your family.

    There are too many self-styled health gurus who are willing to dismiss Whooping Cough as trivial or the vaccine as superfluous. According to NHS Immunisations: How Serious Is Whooping Cough?:more than half of babies under 1 with whooping cough are hospitalisedthe majority of pertussis cases involve some degree of collapsed lung and/or pneumoniaabout 1 in every 500 die from the illness, and the risk is highest in younger babieshalf of the deaths are attributed to pneumoniaup to 1 in 50 can suffer convulsionsaround 1 in 1000 may develop encephalopathy (brain disease).Serious illness is less common in older children however whooping cough can still be debilitating, and it is disruptive both for them and other family members. For infants, the consequences are as above or as so movingly outlined by Mr McCaffery.

  7. HCN March 15, 2009 at 03:12 #

    I am so sorry.

    I got into the vaccine controversy many years ago after my first child was born. Since he had neonatal seizures he was denied protection from pertussis (primarily due to the scaremongering by Barbara Loe Fisher and friends, and as it turns out the DTP did not increase seizures above the norm).

    This was at a time when there was a pertussis epidemic in my county (not far from one of the places Kev mentioned above, actually my county touches the corner of that county). I live in a crunchy hippy part of the state.

    So I actually asked parents of kids my baby came in contact with if they had been fully vaccinated. I only encountered one mommy group with a vaccine dissenter. Since she was thoroughly obnoxious, I think there was another advantage to avoiding the anti-vax folks.

    Still over a dozen American babies die from pertussis each year, and that number is growing. Horribly sad.

    My oldest son finally got his first pertussis vaccine recently. As an adult he received the Tdap vaccine (which is important because he also has a severe genetic heart condition, which puts him first in line for the annual flu shot). Both of his siblings have had the Tdap, and I will get it when my tetanus booster is due.

  8. Kev March 15, 2009 at 07:47 #

    Thank you so much for commenting Sir. Society has a responsibility to protect its most vulnerable citizens and the society that allowed herd immunity to drop below safe levels placed your poor daughter in danger.

    Unfortunately I share a community with people who think it is OK to promote a policy of delayed or non vaccination. I apologise for that communities part in the heart breaking situation you now find yourself in.

  9. Mike McCarron March 15, 2009 at 15:59 #

    Dear David McCaffery,

    My heart goes out to you and your wife during this indescribably difficult time. Please know that loving thoughts and prayers from people in many different countries are being focused toward your family.

    Thank you for stepping forward and speaking out during this time of grief. Sometimes things must be said, even when the tears are still flowing.

  10. Regan March 15, 2009 at 21:02 #

    Mr. McCaffery,
    My deepest condolences on the loss of your daughter.
    We all have a responsibility as members of a society to remember that there are others around us and that our claims as individuals do not extend to putting our neighbors in harm’s way.

    I am so sorry.

  11. Catherina March 15, 2009 at 22:28 #

    Dear Mr McCaffery,

    my heart goes out to you and your family – what a terrible loss!

  12. chaoticidealism March 16, 2009 at 01:10 #

    It seems to me it is probably going to do more good if you can get the unvaccinated kids and adults vaccinated, than if you push whooping cough vaccines earlier. In a community of a thousand, a 10% unvaccinated rate means a hundred unvaccinated people over the age of 6 months, and only twenty people under that age. Also–who has more social contacts, a six month old baby or a twelve year old kid? Vaccinate the older people and you’d stop it dead in its tracks before it ever got a chance to get to the infants.

  13. lacshmiybarra March 16, 2009 at 02:50 #

    This is terrible news indeed. Part of the problem in the states however, is that it is not so simple as just increasing the vaccination rate with regard to whooping cough. We have never been able to eradicate it because it is a bacterial virus and we can get it over and over again through out our lives. In addition, we can be asymptomatic carriers whether or not we have been vaccinated.

    From what is happening in the states, It appears as though the pertussis portion of the DPaT is not working effectively.

    The infant receives it on a schedule of 2, 4, 6, 12-18 months and then again at 4-6 yrs for a total of five shots.
    It turns out that several children who were fully vaccinated were no longer protected (but did have antibodies) at 7 -9 years of age.

    So, the practice now is to give a 6th DTap shot at age 11 (not the same concentration as the infant dose) AND, every pregnant woman, after delivering her child and before leaving the hospital is encouraged to get a DaPT with the hope that it will somehow protect the NB since it is not safe to vaccinate the NB. There has been no study to my knowledge of the pregnant women to see if their titres are still showing immunity. I think it would be important to know, ahead of giving the shot…otherwise, one will not know for sure if it was the past immunity or current immunity or either that protected the infant (or did not, whatever the case may be).

    The other problem is that many infants are not ready to leave the hospital as quickly as mom is and they are transferred to the pediatric ward! This is where a NB is exposed to everything but the kitchen sink in terms of viral and bacterial illnesses.

    It seems that a little common sense is in order…if the current vaccine is not working…is not potent enough…or just ineffective, giving more is like a crap shoot and certainly not evidence-based.

    Additionally, as stated above, Pertussis is a bacterial infection which most of us can and probably do get, over and over again. Even someone who has had whooping cough can get it again and the chance of being an asymptomatic carrier is very high (especially among nurses) whether or not vaccinated.

    Do not have the answer but just thought I would throw that information out there.

  14. Sue M. March 16, 2009 at 22:03 #

    My heart also goes out to this family.

    I would like to be perfectly clear that I find Kev’s title here troubling. What kind of warped view do you have Kev where you find it acceptable to suggest that those of us who question certain vaxx’s (or all vaxx’s for that matter) would in any way *rejoice* over the death of a baby. You, my friend, are twisted.

    To the McCaffrey family … I send my best wishes and condolences… To Kev …. Grow Up!

  15. Chris March 17, 2009 at 00:30 #

    There are some interesting comments in this Australian podcast:

  16. Kev March 17, 2009 at 00:31 #

    Because I sincerely don’t know how else to explain the fact that there is _no_ science to support your opinions and _lots_ of science to support the fact vaccines don’t cause autism and yet you still feel its acceptable to accost people in doctors waiting rooms urging them not to vaccinate, you put up posters in hospitals and doctors waiting rooms urging them not to vaccinate. You post on a myriad of websites, public access and supposedly closed access email lists discussing campaigns and tactics to halt, hinder and block the uptake of vaccinations.

    I don’t get you or people like you Sue. Never have, never will. You _oppose_ – or even disbelieve in – the things that could have assured the McCaffrey’s still had their daughter with them. And you have the gall to come on here with your crocodile tears because what remains of your conscience is pricking at you?

    And you call _me_ twisted?

  17. isles March 17, 2009 at 04:16 #

    Fact-checking lacshmiybarra:

    “it is a bacterial virus”

    This is nonsensical. There are bacteria and there are viruses. Bacteria are unicellular organisms. Viruses are not even cells.

    “we can get it over and over again”

    Stretching it. Immunity does seem to wane after a period of years but I doubt you could find anyone who has had pertussis “over and over again.”

    “we can be asymptomatic carriers”

    Nope. Asymptomatic carriage of pertussis does not transmit disease.

    “the pertussis portion of the DPaT”

    DTaP. Do you even know what the letters stand for?

    “a 6th DTap shot at age 11”

    No, in that age group it would be Tdap. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, you should rethink your decision to opine about it.

    “encouraged to get a DaPT”

    Are you drunk?

    “I think it would be important to know, ahead of giving the shot”

    No. There is no need to assess immunity before administering Tdap.

    “they are transferred to the pediatric ward”

    Infants too fragile to go home go to NICUs, not pediatric wards full of older kids.

    “the current vaccine is not working”

    No, people aren’t taking it when they should. The number of people in a population who must be immune in order for herd immunity to exist depends on factors including the intrinsic pathogenicity of the organism and the likelihood that an infected person will come into contact with a vulnerable person. Fewer vaccinated people -> more vulnerable people -> herd immunity slips -> people get sick. Some of them die. Please remember that’s what’s at stake.

  18. Dedj March 17, 2009 at 13:29 #

    Any reasonable person would have considered the outright ‘twisted’ quality of Kev’s title to be an indication that Kev was not making a literal suggestion, but was using it for rhetoric.

    When people can’t even read blog titles properly – why should we trust what they say about complex issues like vaccines?

  19. Amy Steere March 17, 2009 at 15:02 #

    My condolences to the McCaffery family at this incredibly sad time.
    I can’t imagine the pain you must feel, and for Mr. McCaffery to leave such a dignified, respectful comment, well, my heart just breaks for you. I would be falling apart.
    Nothing will alleviate your pain right now, but I appreciate your stepping forward as you did. That took loads of courage.

  20. Genevieve April 26, 2009 at 10:59 #

    My heart goes out the the McCaffreys, and, just as my heart goes out to the people who have had children irreversibly damaged by vaccinations – and some of those children who have died as a result. My heart goes out to little Dana, whose life was cut short, and whose quality of life was compromesed with her immune system which woud have been compromised by the vaccinations she would have recieved without her consent from the time of her birth. I do not hold her parents responsible for their decisions, as they should not hold themselves responsible, although not doubt they would, as that is what we all do with our babes. Anything that ever happens to them, we question ourselves, and our decisions, and our responsibility, and feel the guilt. It’s how we are programmed. But, dealing with this kind of guilt is not a reason to look for others to blame. If we look at the statistics of the decline of varying childhood diseases, including pertussis, it shows categoricallly that the introduction of vaccinations was belated. The advent of hygiene, better nutrition, improved medicines, better quality of shelter all contributed to these declines. Vaccinations were an afterthought of drug companies who reeeally like making money at the expense of long-term health. Think about it, do the research before making a decision. Think about it before slamming people who are doing their best by their children. Who am I to take this stance? A mother with a vaccinated child who contracted Whooping Cough. This did not just make me a cynic, but, a thinking person. Become one before it’s too late. Don’t get caught up in the hype. Genevieve.

  21. anothervoice1 April 26, 2009 at 14:54 #

    Genevieve your post encapsulates so much of what I find to be repulsive about the anti-vax movement, it is truly disgusting. This baby is dead due to exposure to people who had not been vaccinated. Have someone read the comments from the father and the doctors who treated her to you.

    You and the rest of the small group that do not vaccinate call yourselves “thinking” people. The next time you are applauding a comedian for his comments on immunology, have someone remind you that you are a thinking person, despite your behavior.

  22. Kev April 26, 2009 at 16:34 #

    I completely echo what anothervoice says. Utterly bereft of any sense of decency or ethics.


  1. Anti-vaxxers rejoice! You got another one! « Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day - March 17, 2009

    […] READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “LEFT BRAIN RIGHT BRAIN” Posted in Left Brain Right Brain. Tags: anti vaccination, Antivaccination lunacy, pertussis vaccine, vaccinations, vaccines, Whooping cough. […]

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