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Whooping Cough vaccine

The ‘whole cell’ vaccine that was used in the UK until 2004 was one of the least safe vaccines and it was discovered in the National Childhood Encephalopathy Study (1981) that it occasionally caused brain damage that could be permanent. The ‘acellular vaccine’ now used in the UK (and offered at BabyJabs) is much safer and, crucially, there is less risk of severe reactions such as encephalopathy (brain damage), collapse and fits. The new vaccine still commonly causes irritability, drowsiness and loss of appetite. Fits and episodes of collapses and unresponsiveness (known as hypotonic hyporesponsive episodes) may occasionally happen.

Unfortunately, the whooping cough vaccine is one of the less effective vaccines, as shown by how commonplace the illness still is. The
effectiveness of the better acellular vaccines in preventing a full attack of whooping cough is over 80%, but somewhat less (70%-76%) at preventing a mild attack. The protection provided by the acellular vaccines wears off rapidly after each dose so that the average protection offered children may be around 50%.

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