Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

The Sciences

Whooping cough outbreak in Boulder


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Medical officials are saying that there have been 37 cases of pertussis -- whooping cough -- reported in my hometown of Boulder so far this year. We're not even 100 days into 2012 yet. [Note: Washington State is in the midst of an actual epidemic of pertussis.] How serious is this? 30 of those Boulder cases are in children under the age of 18... and it almost took the life of six week old Natalie Schultz. The local news reported on this:

[You may need to refresh this page to see the video.] This outbreak might shock you, especially considering Boulder is one of the most educated cities in the United States

. But in fact, I've been wondering if and when something like this might happen here. Denial of the benefits of vaccination is strong in educated areas, like Boulder or Marin county, California -- being educated doesn't mean you get things right, and in fact can make people believe in their own knowledge even more strongly. They go online and find antivax literature which magnifies their own beliefs. Also, these tend to be more left-leaning areas, and the antivax movement does better there

. The result?

A little baby, not even two months old, is recovering from a nearly-fatal event that was totally preventable if enough people were vaccinated.

Herd immunity

would have prevented this whole thing. Natalie is too young to get a pertussis vaccine herself, so babies like her rely on adults -- us -- to be immunized against these diseases. Adults should have a pertussis booster every ten years. I got my TDaP booster a couple of years ago

. Just two months earlier, unbeknownst to me at the time, a little girl in Belgium named Lore Darch died from pertussis at the age of 83 days. Her father, Danny, wrote a diary for her as a memorial. Read it if you can

. I did, and my heart aches so hard it's a physical pain. Like David and Toni McCaffery -- who lost their daughter Dana to pertussis

-- Danny and his wife Katrien have become vocal advocates for vaccination



If you haven't had your booster, you should talk to your board-certified doctor and see if you need one as well. As Danica, Natalie's mother put it:

"I almost lost my daughter at almost six weeks old... that could have been prevented if everyone was vaccinated."

She's right. Antivaxxers are wrong. DON'T believe themabout vaccine ingredients

. DON'T believe themwhen they say they just want to educate people

. DON'T believe themwhen they say vaccines cause autism

. DON'T believe themwhen they say vaccines don't work

. Vaccinations save lives

. It's that simple. Go talk to your doctor. NOW.

My thanks to The Vaccine Times on Twitter for alerting me to this.

Related Posts: - Stop antivaxxers. Now. - Pertussis can kill, and you can help stop it - Pertussis and measles are coming back - More on Wakefield’s descent: money, money, money!

2 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In