The vaccine does not appear to be working well. Though reported cases increased following a fall in immunisation rates in the 1970s and 1908s from 80% to 30%, this was largely a result of overenthusiastic notification by doctors caught up in media mania. But at the same time as more cases were being reported, deaths from whooping cough continued to fall.
Let’s have a look at the decline in deaths from whooping cough.
First up is the graph that the Department of Health like to show:
The graph is impressive and shows that deaths fell dramatically following introduction of small-scale vaccination and the national immunisation campaign in 1957.
But are we missing the wood for the trees? Let’s use a wide-angle lens to look at the deaths from whooping cough from 1900:
This graph tells a different story.
The number of deaths has fallen steadily – largely in the first half of the century. The introduction of antibiotics in the late 1930s may have helped prevent deaths from pneumonia (the most common cause of death), but even they do not appear to have hastened the steady decline. The introduction of vaccination, when deaths from whooping cough had already become uncommon, does not appear to have had any effect on the decline in deaths.