Whooping Cough Virus Infiltrates Tam


By Nic Mosher

Multiple cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, have been recorded in the past few months at Tam, despite emails and letters from the Tamalpais Union High School District mandating that all students receive a vaccination prior to the school year. Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial disease that is infamous for causing an uncontrollable, violent cough in its victims.

According to an article in “Scientific American,” one in every 100,000 people are expected to get whooping cough every year in the U.S. since the vaccine was made available. Over the past few years, these numbers have continued to increase, and doctors are struggling to understand why children who were fully vaccinated still contract the disease.

Junior Gabe Renneisen was diagnosed with whooping cough in early December of last year, and was sick until late February, even though he was vaccinated in May. “It turns out I had whooping cough for three months and didn’t even know it until two months in,” Renneisen said. “Having whooping cough wasn’t fun, but the only symptoms were a bad cough and it didn’t really make me feel really tired. I was able to function relatively normally, but the cough got bad enough to see a doctor.”

Junior Tyler Barbee also contracted whooping cough earlier this year. “My doctor said that the vaccination for whooping cough is only a booster, and therefore [is] only 40 to 50 percent effective,” Barbee said. “I got [whooping cough] for about a week in January, but I took antibiotics early on and was able to go to school without spreading it to anyone else. I had the booster at the end of eighth grade, but I guess it wasn’t strong enough.”

As the school year nears its end, cases of Pertussis continue to appear. Most recently, cases have been recorded in both the sophomore and senior grades. The only current explanation that pediatricians have is that this strain of whooping cough is finding a way around the vaccine. Kristine Macartney, the deputy director of the National Center for Immunization claims that a small amount of the population is susceptible to pertussis even after having up-to-date vaccinations. “No vaccine is 100 percent effective,” Macartney said.