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Refusing Immunizations Puts Children at Increased Risk of Pertussis Infection, Kaiser Permanente Study Finds
Date:5/25/2009

., a senior scientist at Kaiser Permanente's Institute for Health Research. "It also shows that the decision to refuse immunizations could have important ramifications for the health of the entire community. Based on our analysis, we found that one in 10 additional whooping cough infections could have been prevented by immunization."

Pertussis - more commonly known as whooping cough - is a highly contagious bacterial disease that causes uncontrollable, violent coughing and can be deadly in infants, especially those under two months of age who are too young to be fully vaccinated. In 1976 there were just over 1,000 reported cases of pertussis in the United States; by 2004, it climbed to nearly 26,000 cases. Between 2000 and 2005 there were 140 deaths resulting from pertussis in the United States.

The best way to prevent pertussis is through vaccinations. The childhood vaccine, DTaP, is a "3-in-1" immunization that protects against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus. It is given in a series to children at two months, four months, six months and 15-18 months of age, and a booster is given before kindergarten. The DTaP vaccine, like other routine childhood immunizations, has been shown to be more than 98 percent effective.

To assess the risk of DTaP refusal, researchers reviewed the electronic health records of children between the ages of two months and 18 years who were members of Kaiser Permanente Colorado between 1996 and 2007. First, investigators confirmed which children had pertussis infections. Next, they verified whether parents had refused some or all vaccines for their children.

The researchers found 156 laboratory-confirmed pertussis cases that met the study's criteria. They compared these cases to four times as many children of the same age and gender who were not infected with pertussis. Based on this analysis, the researchers discovered that children of vaccine refusers were 2
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SOURCE Kaiser Permanente
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