Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you have any medical concerns we suggest you consult your GP.

Whooping cough vaccine -- big problems

(30 Posts)
sarah1942 Tue 04-Jun-13 21:17:16

I'm trying to help my soon-to-give-birth daughter come to a decision about the whooping cough vaccine.
Her half sister, Lindsay, was severely brain damaged following the wcv 50 years ago. (there is a collossal age gap between them). Lindsay had convulsions and petechiae all over her body following the first vaccination. When she had the second, she was well, had no viruses, but the same thing happened afterwards-- convulsions and all-over petechiae (not sure if this is how it's spelt). When she was four years old it became apparent that something was very vey wrong and later compensation was paid to her parents for her.
My own daughter, Lindsay's half sister, has consulted doctors and a consultant but they are all of the opinion that the vaccine today is safer than it was 50 years ago BUT they can't guarantee her baby won't be affected. At first she was intending keeping people away from the baby unless they had had a wc booster and that included me. But doctors wont vaccinate adults. Only pregnant mums and babies. Also she told me yesterday that babies are now given ALL the vaccines in one go. Is this true? She obviously can't withhold all of them. She's just unable to switch off from this. Time is running out. She says she just wishes she could carry on protecting the baby by keeping him/her in her tummy but in July that will no longer be possible. She doesn't trust the doctors as they all seem to be pushing for the vaccine regardless. So I'm just trying to help by asking on here "What would YOU do?"

Smartiepants79 Tue 04-Jun-13 21:25:54

Doctors do push vaccines as they are important, extremely safe and not having them can have serious consequences for others as well as yourself - as proved by the issues with measles lately.
I'm sure vaccines are much safer now but no one can promise her 100% safety, that is unreasonable and would be unprofessional.
I understand her worries but I would ( and have ) had both my girls vaccinated.
And yes several vaccines are given in one go. Here is the info

Regards your immunity have you looked at paying to have it done privately. Clinics do vaccines privately but not sure which.

Smartiepants79 Tue 04-Jun-13 21:26:17

Sorry, try this

CrystalSinger Tue 04-Jun-13 21:29:42

I would give no vaccinations in the situation you have outlined. none.

I postponed baby vacs till 3 years because there was a family history of vaccine damage - and the vacs still caused lasting permanent damage for my DC.

I wish to god that I'd never got my DC vaccinated.

ghosteditor Tue 04-Jun-13 21:39:38

I'm very pro vaccine and DD (16 no) has the full set so far.

I would not vaccinate in the situation you describe. But your daughter needs to be prepared to live with her decision if there are complications from preventable diseases - unfortunately she will never know.

You can, however, privately pay for separate injections to some diseases. But I'm not sure I'd vaccinate at all.

Good luck.

Poosnu Tue 04-Jun-13 21:49:05

I understand that the whopping cough vaccine has certainly changed since that given in the 80s. I understand that this might be why the vaccine is less effective now than it used to be.

I researched this quite a lot before giving the vaccine to my DD, as I reacted badly to the whooping cough vaccine after receiving it as a baby.

Poosnu Tue 04-Jun-13 21:54:07

If she didn't want to vaccinate her baby, all adults in close proximity to the baby could have the wc vaccination done privately (if that is feasible financially).

I don't think you can get wc as a standalone vaccine, even privately.

She would no doubt want to keep visitors away from the baby who are showing any cold symptoms, in case they are developing whooping cough.

Smartiepants79 Tue 04-Jun-13 21:55:55

What do the doctors say in response to her family history?
NHS website says that family history is not a reason not to vaccinate.
I would not be comfortable with no vaccinations at all.

adagio Tue 04-Jun-13 22:15:22

I am pro vaccination and have said yes to everything for me (in pregnancy) and now for my baby. I am even looking at early MMR (6 months) due to living near-ish to Swansea.

However, in this situation I wouldn't vaccinate

If anything happened to the baby due to the vaccination then my word she will never forgive herself. If she gets a (preventable) disease (which to be fair, is fairly unlikely where vaccine take up is reasonably high) they will still attempt to treat it, and may well be successful. The probability of a) getting it then b) not being treated successfully is, IMO fairly low and the lesser of two evils.

But thats just me.

Good luck with whatever the decision is, perhaps see if you can work out if you are in a high Whooping Cough area at the moment?

Smartiepants79 Tue 04-Jun-13 22:42:19

Also bear in mind this is a half sibling so the genetic risks will be less.

Crumbledwalnuts Tue 04-Jun-13 22:56:41

I have delayed vaccines. It offers reassurance because it's not a definite never, just "maybe next week". The WC vaccine now does not have mercury in it, so it is safer, but it is still five at one go. It is hard to prove vaccine damage and get compensation. It tends to get dismissed as coincidence or a distraught parent looking for something to blame. So I would not do it for "herd immunity" reasons and would be thinking solely of my own child, in your daughter's situation, and weighing up the risks there.

In addition, the current vaccine does not offer protection against a new strain of WC, parapertussis, which can be severe in young infants. However it has been shown to increase pertussis vulnerability in experiments on mice lungs. These are other pieces of information which may come into it.

I would avoid a lot of social contact for the baby if vaccines are delayed or not given, for the first four or five months.

I suspect in your daughter's situation I probably wouldn't go ahead, because I delayed without any family history at all. But I honestly wouldn't go with "what other people would do". There's an awful lot of reading up she could do. I would say she needs to resist pressure in either direction and research much more coolly. She has six weeks or so.

Bugsylugs Tue 04-Jun-13 23:19:15

Is her question whether to have it. In pregnancy when due or both?

If the first she could opt to have it after delivery to protect her and so baby this is also in the guidelines. It is thought some immunity will transfer from mother to baby when given during pregnancy. America have been doing it for about a yr longer than us in pregnancy

CatherinaJTV Wed 05-Jun-13 07:06:15

Sarah - what are you asking. Do you wonder whether your daughter should have the dTaP now, before she delivers? Or whether her child should have the vaccine?

sarah1942 Wed 05-Jun-13 12:29:14

Thank you all for replying to me. My daughter is replying from now on as it's her decision at the end of the day. I was just on here for her, to give her some advice, so thank you all once again xxx

A1983 Wed 05-Jun-13 12:42:21

Hello there-Sarah's daughter here!

Firstly thank you so much for all your replies-I have been getting quite a lot of mixed views so my head is spinning :-(

Ok to answer some questions-the paediatrician says I should go for the vaccine which is now a 5-in-1 as the wc part is acellular-50 yrs ago it was whole cell. Obviously I don't know IF that's what caused my sisters convulsions and brain damage..but for the sake of my baby IF he has them then I hope so. I live in Bath and
have spoken with a clinic in my area who offer a vaccination programme tailored to the parents needs and wishes-they give the following:Tetanus, diptheria and acellular pertussis vaccine-so a 3 in 1 with a seperate polio vaccine.  The hib vaccine I can get through GP. The lady said she has not known any serious side effects of the acellular pertussis vaccine and their vaccine is called Infranrix. (Online it says its used from 2 months yet other sites have said this isnt to be used under 16months?? The lady at the clinic vaccinated her own children with this vaccine. The 3 in 1 would need to be given over 3 periods of time, whichever the parent chooses ie every 8 weeks.  It costs £100 per vaccine plus the Polio is £100 each for 3...I asked her if my baby doesn't react to the first vaccine of the 3 in 1 and my GP uses the same acellular vaccine, could I then get the rest from my GP as usual to which she said I could but she hasn't come across that as parents tend to stick to the 3x3 in 1 vaccine as they don't want their baby being vaccinated with 5 or more jabs at once. So plan is to discuss this with the Paediatrician and aim on getting the first set of jabs done...and go from there.

I had the wc booster 18 months ago by accident-however had no problems with it- the lady also said this booster Tdap vaccine is the same vaccine as a baby would get-the pertussis vaccine is just that-it's formulation doesn't change, it's just called a booster for terminology for it's timing. So the fact I didn't have any adverse effects is positive-although yes this may be down to a fully developed immune system as an adult. 

As for having the vaccine during pregnancy-of course I want to-it will protect him for the first few months of his life-but I can't-not only because of my family history but its new in its use in pregnancy and as others have said-I feel these risks outweigh the chance of him getting wc. I hope. It's all so unknown, it's terrifying. At least at 8 weeks if I choose to go privately (which I may have to otherwise he wont be protected against diptheria or tetanus either) I can SEE how he reacts. In my womb I can't.

Crystal im so sorry to hear about your DC, can I ask-was it the acellular wc 5 in 1 vaccine? Did they convulse? How are they affected now? It's such a horrible decision to do you protect your child now as not having any vaccines?

My mum (Sarah) is having the booster, as am I after the birth, and the baby's dad and his parents. As for others ie in my NCT group ill just have to hope they protected themselves via the vaccination during their pregnancies?

CatherinaJTV Wed 05-Jun-13 13:04:12

Hi A1983 - I am sorry that you are getting so much conflicting information. My two cents (to add to the random thoughts) are the following:

Cocooning is a great idea (so you, DH etc getting your dTaP boosters).

Infanrix comes as DTaP (Infanrix), DTaP-IPV (Infanrix-IPV), DTaP-IPV/hib (Infanrix-IPV-hib) and DTaP/IPV/hepB/hib (Infanrix hexa - that is the vaccine every German baby gets, like my son).

Adults get a dTaP (reduced diphtheria content), the DTaP is for the basic immunisation.

If you want your baby to be protected against all 5 diseases on the UK immunisation plan, I would actually recommend going ahead and try to get the 5 in 1 shot that the NHS offers. That vaccine is significantly easier on the immune system than the DTP that your sister will have gotten (that contained whole bacteria). You could do one and see how he does.

If you go private, your little one is going to get a lot of shots to get him protected (it is my personal preference to poke the babies as little as possible, although I violated that recently for three travel vaccines that my not-so-little-anymore son got in a day, he only got one per visit when he was little and can drag things out and make keeping tab difficult).

I am glad you have medically qualified people to talk you through the process near you. Make sure you are not taken advantage of along the way and all the best!

Crumbledwalnuts Wed 05-Jun-13 13:07:05

You could do one and see how he does.

God in heaven.

Crumbledwalnuts Wed 05-Jun-13 13:16:33

That was an involuntary reaction and unnecessary. A1983, I'm glad people around you are able to get protected, and all the best with whatever decision you make.

CatherinaJTV Wed 05-Jun-13 13:43:38

Infanrix (DTaP) adverse effects (

Rates of injection site reactions (pain, redness, swelling) ranged from 10% to 53%, depending on reaction and dose number, and were highest following doses 4 and 5. Fever was common (20% to 30%) following doses 1-3. Other common solicited adverse events were drowsiness, irritability/fussiness, and loss of appetite, reported in approximately 15% to 60% of subjects, depending on event and dose number.

Pediacel (NHS 5 in 1 brand, extracted from

Local reactions 7% to 33%
Fever <20%
Fussiness etc 5% to 47%

In other words, the Pediacel is better tolerated than Infanrix (DTaP) AND protects against hib and polio at the same time (which, given separately, would come with their own risks of fever, fussiness etc).

"Spontaneous" reaction are understandable. We all get them. However, in order to make a decision, it is better to look at the evidence, which in this case does NOT exclude going ahead with the Pediacel, on the contrary.

A1983 Thu 06-Jun-13 12:05:44

Poosnu-may I ask how you reacted badly? Was that the old wcv? And your baby was ok with the whooping cough vaccine when you decided to go ahead? Was it the 5-in-1? And how old was she? Sorry for all the questions, im just trying to gather as much information as possible!

As for not vaccinating my baby at all-well ive joined the local Arnica group that holds talks and support on natural immunisation in case I decide not to vaccinate-they have said if I choose to vaccinate then to at least wait until my baby's immune system is fully developed-ill research now when this will be. It just seems whooping cough affects young babies the worst-poor little things-and they get it so severly potentially leading to the unthinkable. So on the one hand im thinking to wait until they are older...but on the other ill be terrified of exposing my unvaccinated baby to other ppl and children which is so stressful in itself. Maybe the Arnica group has interventions they can suggest that will significantly reduce the chances of my baby picking up diseases aside to bf. However no other vaccines have been an issue in our family-it's just the whooping cough vaccine-but it's so annoying that I can't just seperate that one out as in doing so id have to not vaccinate against diptheria and tetanus also. Oh and I live in Bath where yes there has been an outbreak-I dont know how it stands at present and the time of year dodoesn't seem to affect it.

Crumbledwalnuts-that's interesting about the (pediacel) vaccine not protecting against the current strain of wc-which is also very worrying as then those babies who have had jabs/pregnant mums who have had the jabs aren't actually protected nor provided a herd community protection for my baby for eg! Can I ask where you found this so I can take it up with the paediatrician/private clinic? Also how long is 'delayed'? Are you wanting to hold off til they are 6 months or 3 years for eg? And with the limited social contact ill definitely do that-but I can't isolate myself as id be so lonely! I know baby comes first of course. I've already told my OH that friends will have to visit baby after he's turned 10 weeks at least which he's not thrilled about-but doesn't feel as concerned as I do :-( But I will be socialising with for eg my nct group and close friends with babies-or I'd go mad-do you think that's ok?

I really am asking a lot of questions here-im really sorry.

Catherina-thank you for that information-the paediatrician also told me to refer to the 'green book' for more information which I have done. It does state alongside those reactions are also, rarely, febrile seizures and high pitched screaming with significantly high temperatures-basically what happened to my half sister. The question is did this cause her brain damage or was she born that way-I ask this because lots of babies seizure for eg but don't develop brain damage. Plus I had the Tdap 18 months ago...and had no side effects so that either points to it not being a risk to me or my baby (PLEASE!) or because my immune system is developed, a babies is not.

Crumbledwalnuts Thu 06-Jun-13 13:12:54

A1983: Pertussis is also circulating as well as parapertussis, so parapertussis not "the current strain of WC". Both are circulating, and (assumption) I am fairly sure there is more pertussis than parapertussis. The vaccine offered IS against a strain of WC that is certainly circulating. Figures are not available on whether hospitalisations and deaths are down to pertussis or parapertussis - not to me, anyway. Caterina has more accessibility to that sort of information. I have tried to get it. General information about bordetella parapertussis is easily available on Medscape and around on the web, including the info that it's less susceptible to antibiotics.

Instead of 8-16-20 I did about four months, five months and six months. Not much of a delay, only two months. I really only did the vaccines in the end because of family pressure, which is fine, they aren't just my children.

On the socialising before vaccines: to be perfectly, perfectly honest, with me, I would just try to avoid contact with young pre-schoolers or early schoolers, anybody that's been unwell, even a little bit, and I would not go to random mother baby groups. For the rest, I wouldn't be worrying. But that's me, and lots of people would say that's irresponsible. I don't think it's irresponsible. But neither me, nor anyone else here, is going to be with you to help afterwards if your baby catches a wild disease or has vaccine damage.

Poosnu Thu 06-Jun-13 20:35:38

A1983 - I had the whooping cough vaccine as a baby in 1982. I had small convulsions / fits all through that night apparently. My mother was scared I might have suffered brain damage. I was absolutely fine, but I didn't get the second vaccination and my brother wasn't vaccinated.

My baby received the standard vaccines at 8, 12 and 16 weeks. She was fine. I was confident that the vaccine had changed and my experience wasn't a contraindication to her being vaccinated. I did think long and hard about it.

In my decision making I factored in living in London in a densely populated area. For me the risks of catching the disease were higher than the risks of the vaccine. If it had been the same vaccine I wouldn't have given it however.

Everyone has a different view on this topic. You need to do your own proper research and do what you feel comfortable with. If you don't vaccinate do be careful who your baby has contact with in the early weeks / months.

OrchidFlakes Thu 06-Jun-13 22:19:37

My DS reacted to his first jabs at 9 weeks. After consultations with GP and other drs it is suspected it was the WC portion of the DTaP. We will if course never know for sure as its a 5 in 1 plus the pneumacocal (sp).

I was pro vac and took him without hesitation, after experiencing 2.5 weeks of high pitched screaming and crying DH and I paused all vaccines.

I too am an arnica member in my area and although I am not anti vax now we are still on pause. We are likely to try a Men C when he is 1 and therefor will not need additional boosters and top up his pneumacocal. As for another DTaP, it's a step too far for me and we are deciding how best to protect him from diseases we feel are higher risk such as tetanus and hib. If it helps at all we are considering treating polio as a 'travel vaccine' as the UK risk is so tiny, when he travels, we'll do it then. Diphtheria is an issue as its only available with WC (PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong). As for WC, for our DS the risk of the vax is worse than the disease... Not a statement I ever thought I would make.

Good luck, it's rotten being caught between a rock and a hard place!

A1983 Fri 07-Jun-13 12:07:29

Thank you ladies, so much-yes I am doing lots of research and joining groups such as Arnica, and speaking to various specialists-but sometimes the best advice/sources of information and those in my shoes/mums.

Orchid im sorry to hear about your DS, I hope there is no lasting issues? And yes I've taken the same stance re the Polio....but as for tetanus and diphtheria that is combined in the Infranrix jab (whooping cough) as a 3-in-1 at private clinic - then you can have hib and pnemercocal seperately witu gp...or all together as a 5-in-1 with gp which is what your DS had. Just for your perspective-did you worry about the wc outbreak? Limit socialising with baby? Crumbled's outlook seems very sensible to me...and im sure ill calm down as he gets older and I see he is ok and not caught anything (I hope) but initially im thinking a bit silly really - ie not taking him round Tesco with me, or round the town which my OH says is crazy...but ill be on pins if anyone coos over him or leans in to pick up their potatoes!! All i ever envisioned was showing my baby off and proudly going out and about with him... suppose ill have to get a baby mask ;-) But seriously, thank you again and I hope to gain more information and confidence in time.

OrchidFlakes Fri 07-Jun-13 15:11:46

My DS is almost 10 months do WC was a concern, plus we live in London. I did reduce his contact with other children and the general public but only for about 8 weeks, after he reacted to his jabs I figured nothing was 'safe' - if a well tested and tolerated jab caused problems sainsburys became less scary!

We lived in an area where the BCG vaccine is offered, for some reason I still can't explain I refused, on gut instinct. I don't know why and again it's a well tested vaccine but I chose to opt out. Incidentally we have now moved to another part of London where he wouldn't have been offered hmm

Childhood diseases scarcely crossed my mind when I was pregnant but since those first jabs it became a daily dialogue in my head and with DH. The older DS gets the easier it gets but it was hard seeing our friends go off and vax their DCs and not take DS and wonder if we were doing the right thing.

So far we are seeing no lasting affects from the DTaP, hopefully it will stay that way. I'm sure it will..

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now