Approx. 24 min.

The Pertussis Vaccine Blame Game

by Barbara Loe Fisher

It is a primitive bacterial vaccine licensed in 1914. It has not been given to babies in America for 20 years. It is the vaccine that had brain damaged so many children and caused so many vaccine injury lawsuits that Big Pharma used it to blackmail Congress into giving vaccine manufacturers a partial product liability shield in 1986,which the U.S. Supreme Court made even bigger in 2011.

I’m talking about whole cell pertussis vaccine in DPT, a crude brew of whole B. pertussis bacteria heated and washed with formaldehyde but still full of neurotoxic aluminum and mercury along with shock-inducing endotoxin, as well as brain damaging bioactive pertussis toxin, a toxin so lethal that researchers use it to deliberately induce acute experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in lab animals. Whole cell pertussis vaccine: the most reactive vaccine still given to infants and children in developing countries because it costs drug companies just pennies to make a dose of it.Whole cell pertussis vaccine, the one that put pressure on the B. pertussis bacterium to mutate into vaccine resistant strains beginning in the 1950s.

Vaccinologists Beating the Drum to Bring Back Toxic DPT Vaccine

Now some vaccinologists are beating the drum to bring back that nasty old vaccine and give it to newborn babies in America. They say they think the toxin-filled whole cell pertussis vaccine in DPT works a little better at preventing whooping cough a little longer than the purified acellular pertussis vaccine in DTaP. They want to “prime” little six to eight-week old babies with ALL the bioactive toxins in the whole cell pertussis vaccine’s crude brew. Apparently they think it is worth the risk to pretend like they have fixed the problem.

In the 1980s, parents of DPT vaccine injured children worked for more than a decade to get the less reactive DTaP vaccine licensed in America because we knew Japan had been using it since 1981 with no reported whooping cough outbreaks and far fewer serious reactions. 20 As public outrage about the reactivity of whole cell pertussis vaccine grew and DPT vaccine injury lawsuits piled up, in 1996 U.S. public health officials finally licensed a purified acellular pertussis vaccine for infants. 21 22 23

Liability Free Vaccine Industry Wants to Re-write History

But they never forgave parents of vaccine injured children for making it happen and, by 1998, they had branded vaccine safety advocates as “anti-vaccine.24 25 Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has declared FDA licensed vaccines to be “unavoidably unsafe” and handed drug companies a free “get out of jail” pass for vaccine injuries and deaths, 26 it is starting to look like the goal all along was to eventually bring back the old pertussis vaccine so the vaccine industry never again will have to spend another dime to improve a vaccine the FDA has licensed as “safe.”

The attempt to rewrite history has begun, and the strategy is to rehabilitate the bad reputation of whole cell DPT vaccine so the clock can be turned back.

Vaccinologists may want to rewrite history, but it is harder to do when the facts are so well documented in the medical literature. 27 For those who want to get educated about the history of pertussis and pertussis vaccination, the online Library of Medicine is a great place to start. 28

Pertussis Fact Number One: Described as the “100 day cough,” B. pertussis disease has been around since at least the 16th century, and it can be especially serious for babies who cannot breathe when the sticky mucous produced by the gram negative bacteria clogs their tiny airways. The World Health Organization estimates that globally 85 of children have gotten three pertussis shots, but every year there are about 160,000 children under age five who die from pertussis complications like pneumonia, and over 60 percent of these children live in Africa. 29 30 Mortality from infectious diseases is always higher where people live in poverty, with crowding and poor sanitation, industrial pollution, substandard nutrition, and lack of access to health care facilities. 31

screaming baby

In 2017, there were 15,808 cases of pertussis reported in America with 13 deaths, 32 although most cases of whooping cough are never identified and reported to the government. That’s because you can be infected with pertussis and show few or no symptoms, whether you have been vaccinated or not. 33 34

Pertussis Fact Number Two: After recovering from a pertussis infection, natural immunity is thought to last between seven and 20 years and artificial immunity has been estimated to wane as early as two years after getting vaccinated with either whole cell or acellular pertussis vaccines. 35 36 37 Vaccinated and unvaccinated people can get two or three pertussis infections during their lifetime, and immunity can be asymptomatically boosted after the first infection.

Pertussis Fact Number Three: As early as 1965 and all through the 1980s and 1990s, public health officials in the U.S. and Europe knew that whole cell pertussis vaccine in DPT was not preventing infections in many vaccinated children and previously vaccinated adults. 38 39 40 41 42 43 Just like before DPT vaccination programs, pertussis increases continued to be reported in cycles of three to five years, 44 45 46 47 48 49 including in the U.S. where 95 percent of children had gotten three to five DPT shots. 50 51

It was obvious more than 30 years ago that whole cell pertussis vaccine in DPT was not only highly reactive, but was marginally effective.

Pertussis Fact Number Four:  Between 1986 and 1996, multiple clinical trials confirmed that the less reactive acellular DTaP vaccine demonstrated superior efficacy and effectiveness compared to the old and more reactive DPT vaccine. 52 53 54 55 Even so, whooping cough outbreaks continued in the 21st century both in countries that had made the switch to the improved one and in countries that stayed with the more reactive old one.56 57 58 59 60 By 2006, U.S. health officials recommended booster doses of acellular Tdap vaccine for teenagers. 61  Then, in 2010, the Tdap booster shot was found to be only about 66 percent effective. 62

Frustrated by continuing reports of whooping cough cases in vaccinated children, by 2012 the false narrative being forwarded in the U.S. media was to blame whooping cough outbreaks on acellular DTaP vaccine, 63 while also pointing a finger at a tiny minority of unvaccinated children and the availability of personal belief exemptions in state vaccine laws. 64 65

Vaccinologists in the U.S. piled on the acellular vaccine 66 67 68 69 70 and, when FDA researchers reported in 2014 that infant baboons given whole cell pertussis vaccine cleared pertussis infection more rapidly than those given acellular vaccine, 71 the drum beat to resurrect whole cell DPT began to get louder. 72 73 74 75 76


In July 2018, the obedient US media hyped a small study out of California promoting the idea that whole cell pertussis vaccine stimulates a broader type of immunity that lasts longer than acellular pertussis vaccine. 77 The by-now familiar refrain was that it would be better to give babies a couple of doses of the old admittedly more reactive whole cell pertussis vaccine followed up by booster doses of acellular vaccine.

The public was being softened up to accept the unacceptable.

Pertussis Fact Number Five: It is important to remember that both the old and newer pertussis vaccines only provide temporary immunity that wanes within two to five years.  Vaccinated people can become “silent reservoirs” of subclinical pertussis infection and transmit whooping cough without even knowing it. 78 79 80

That is because there is a big difference between a vaccine that prevents infection and a vaccine that prevents disease and symptoms of infection. 81 This difference explains why pertussis vaccine induced herd immunity has always been a myth, an illusion created when asymptomatic boosting of pertussis immunity through natural infection occurs in highly vaccinated populations.82 83 84 85

But wait, there is more.

Everybody knows about how the indiscriminate use of antibiotics has led to virulent antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, which evolved to evade those miracle drugs that do save lives when doctors prescribe them properly.  Well, the same thing has happened with the B. pertussis bacterium, which started evolving to become vaccine resistant soon after public health officials and pediatricians prescribed multiple doses of whole cell DPT vaccine for all children.


As I explained in my 2016 commentary, Pertussis Microbe Outsmarts the Vaccines As Experts Argue About Why, bench scientists have been publishing scientific evidence for more than 20 years that vaccine-resistant B. pertussis strains began to emerge after whole cell pertussis vaccine was licensed in the late 1940s and before acellular pertussis vaccine was licensed in the mid 1990s. 86 Public health officials at the CDC and around the world admitted in 2014 that “most mutations in genes encoding acellular vaccine components arose in the period in which the whole cell vaccine was used.” 87

Pertussis Vaccines Don’t Contain Circulating B. Pertussis Strains

The science on that point is clear: The B. pertussis bacterium adapted to whole cell pertussis vaccination programs to survive, and now that evolutionary process is accelerating. 88 89 Today, none of the whole cell or acellular pertussis vaccines doctors routinely administer to children and pregnant women contain the mutated B. pertussis strains widely circulating and causing whooping cough in human populations. 90 91

The inconvenient truth is that mutated, vaccine resistant pertussis strains are being identified more often in vaccinated persons than in unvaccinated persons. 92

So why would any rational thinking person with an ounce of moral integrity suggest that subjecting newborn babies to the more reactive pertussis vaccine is the solution to preventing whooping cough, when none of the pertussis vaccines contain the new pertussis strains causing whooping cough today?

Vaccinologists and Basic Science Knowledge Gaps

After a century of pertussis vaccination programs, vaccinologists still do not know how pertussis infections – or many other infections – stimulate long lasting cell mediated and humoral immunity in the body. 93 That lack of basic scientific knowledge is why they don’t know how to make vaccines that provide long lasting artificial immunity and why they don’t have correlates for immunity to accurately measure what kind of immunity vaccines do or do not provide. 94 95

blind doctor

After a century of global vaccination, vaccinologists also admit they still do not understand why and how natural infections or vaccines cause complications that can lead to brain damage and death and they don’t know how to accurately identify who is more susceptible to harm. 96 97 98 That is why they don’t know how to make vaccines that are free from serious side effects. 99 100

And after a century of laws requiring infants and children to get a growing list of old and new vaccines, there is little effort being made to find how many of those vaccines have caused or will cause microbes to evolve into more virulent, vaccine resistant forms. 101 102 103 104

Doctors and Patients Kept in the Dark

Vaccination is often hailed as the greatest achievement in the history of medicine, but doctors giving vaccines and people getting them have been kept in the dark about just how much is not known about vaccine risks and failures. So when a healthy child or pregnant women gets vaccinated and dies, or is never well again, doctors kept in the dark are conditioned to tell mothers kept in the dark that the vaccine or combination of vaccines just given had nothing to do with it.

Vaccine policy and law has preceded the science and it is especially true when it comes to pertussis vaccination. You only have to read articles in the medical literature about long standing problems with pertussis vaccine toxicity and potency tests to find out how much vaccinologists don’t know about the safety and effectiveness of pertussis vaccines. 105 106

Whole Cell DPT Vaccine: Most Reactive Vaccine on Market Today

For young parents, who may not be familiar with the bad side effects of whole cell DPT vaccine, you can learn more by accessing hyperlinked references to the medical literature at the end of this commentary. To give you an idea about what you will learn, following are a few facts about the old whole cell pertussis vaccine that stopped being given to infants in America in the late 1990s:

  • In 1933, the whole cell pertussis vaccine was reported to kill infants without warning. 107
  • By the 1960s, the medical community knew that whole cell pertussis vaccine could cause convulsions and brain damage in children. 108 109
  • By 1981, there was little doubt that whole cell pertussis vaccine is the most reactive vaccine ever given to infants and children, second only to smallpox vaccine. 110 111 112
vaccine roulette

In 1982, the eyes of parents in America were opened by the award winning television documentary DPT: Vaccine Roulette, followed by parents founding the organization known today as the National Vaccine Information Center and the publishing of the book DPT: A Shot in the Dark in 1985. 113 The reactivity of DPT vaccine was out in the open and mothers were sharing their first hand  experiences of how they watched their babies suffer terrible DPT vaccine reactions.

Between 50 and 80 percent of babies who get whole cell DPT shots run fevers, and experience pain, redness and swelling at the site of the injection, and many of them are more fussy or lose their appetite for a day or two. 114 If DPT vaccine reactions were confined to sore arms and legs or low fevers and a little extra fussiness, there would never have been a call by parents to make that old vaccine less reactive.

No, the fact is that, for nearly a century, whole cell pertussis vaccine has been notorious for causing far more serious reactions like high-pitched screaming (also known as the encephalitic cry) 115 and hypotonic/hyporesponsive episodes (also known as collapse/shock), 116 and febrile or afebrile convulsions (also known as seizures) 117 118 and brain inflammation (also known as encephalitis, encephalomyelitis and encephalopathy). 119 120 121 Between 25 and 60 percent of children who develop acute encephalitis or encephalopathy or have convulsions, including febrile convulsions – for any reason – are left with some kind of brain like personality changes, developmental delays and learning disabilities, ADHD, seizure disorders, lower IQ, speech, motor and behavior disorders and other disabilities. 122 123 124 125 126

worried parents
The Science Is Clear: DPT Injures and Kills More Often Than DTaP
  • A 1981 U.S. study funded by the FDA and conducted at UCLA found that 1 in 875 DPT shots was followed by a convulsion or collapse/shock reaction. 127 Some of the children in that study were left with neurological problems and low IQs.
  • The 1981 British National Childhood Encephalopathy Study (NCES) estimated that the risk for a previously healthy child developing a serious neurological problem within seven days of DPT vaccination was 1 in 110,000 DPT shots and the risk of chronic brain dysfunction was 1 in 310,000 DPT shots. 128 Some of the children in that study were left with brain damage manifested by “neurologic, motor, sensory, educational behavioral and self-care dysfunctions.” 129
  • In 1985, CDC officials reported that children who experienced a neurological problem after DPT vaccination had a 7 times greater risk if they had a personal history of convulsions and a 4.5 times greater risk if they had a family history of convulsions. 130
  • In 1991 and 1994, two Institute of Medicine committees analyzed the scientific evidence and confirmed that DPT vaccine can cause acute encephalopathy and brain damage in previously healthy children. 131 132
  • Most developing countries still use whole cell DPT and, in 2018, Brazil reported that adverse events following DPT and DPT-Hib shots account for more than 75 percent of reported childhood vaccine reactions; 133
  • In the U.S. vaccine injury compensation program (VICP), DPT vaccine is the vaccine with the most injury claims filed, including for death, and it is the second most compensated vaccine injury claim, with influenza vaccine now in first place. 134
  • DTaP vaccine still generates a significant number of adverse reaction reports 135 136 but, with few exceptions, multiple studies confirm that DTaP vaccine is up to two-thirds less reactive than DPT vaccine. 137 138 139 140 141

To all those doctors out there who think you have a problem with public trust in vaccine safety today, 142 143 just wait until you try to strong arm mothers and fathers in America to give their newborn babies that nasty old whole cell pertussis vaccine.

But wait, there is more.


In 2015, the World Health Organization issued a new pertussis vaccine position paper to give doctors in every nation their marching orders. 144 In that paper, global public health officials rejected nearly a century of scientific evidence documenting the toxicity and risks of whole cell pertussis vaccine. They said that, except for anaphylaxis, there are no contraindications to giving children any type of pertussis-containing vaccine.

No contraindications. No medical exemptions. Not for children who are sick at the time of vaccination or have suffered high pitched screaming, collapse, convulsions and brain injury within hours, not for children who almost died after vaccination.

Who paid for this scientifically illiterate position paper that cruelly devalues the lives of individual children? The four top funders of the World Health Organization are the U.S. government, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the British government and GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, which includes the largest vaccine manufacturers in the world. 145

If this can be done with pertussis vaccine, it can be done with every future vaccine that Pharma is creating and governments will recommend and mandate, from cytomegalovirus and strep B to syphilis and HIV. 146 147 148 149

The End Game: Forced Vaccination, No Exceptions

This is the End Game being played out on the world stage that I have been warning since 1993 was coming, the day when every vaccine that the pharmaceutical industry creates and government health officials recommend will be forced on you and your children. 150 151 No questions, no mercy, no exceptions.

We, the people, are the barrier that stands between our children and grandchildren and the toxic whole cell pertussis vaccine the vaccine industry wants to bring back to America so they can rewrite history and turn the clock back.


Before the drum beat gets any louder, 152 it is up to each one of us to stand up and defend freedom of thought and speech and conscience in America so we can protect our right to know and freedom to make voluntary vaccine decisions for ourselves and our children.

Nobody Will Save You But You

Nobody will save you and your family from what is coming tomorrow except the action that you, personally, take today. Please share this commentary with your family and friends and make an appointment to speak with your elected representatives. Sign up to use the free online NVIC Advocacy Portal and join with other concerned citizens in your state who want to stop the liability free vaccine industry from continuing to exploit the health of our children and our nation.

It’s your health. Your family. Your choice.

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