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Whooping Cough Vaccine Controversy 1980's

(43 Posts)
aussiedreamer Tue 05-Jan-21 16:11:51

Hi! I'm new to Gransnet. Does anyone remember what the Whooping Cough vaccine controversy in the 1970's & 80's was all about? My 2 weren't vaccinated because, as far as I recall the guidance given was not to have them vaccinated if there is a family history of seizures. I'm asking because our daughter is now expecting her first baby & none of the midwives have ever heard about it. Can anyone shed any light on this please?

BigBertha1 Tue 05-Jan-21 16:14:49

I did hear about it as my daughter was born in the early 70s. Its recommended now and I am not aware of any controversy but if there is one someone on here will know all about it!

Galaxy Tue 05-Jan-21 16:16:40

My brother didnt receive a vaccine in the 70s but I thought it was measles or mumps, it was definitely due to a vaccine scare. He was consequently ill during his o levels.

Smileless2012 Tue 05-Jan-21 16:19:24

Hi aussiedreamer and welcome to GNsmile.

Yes I remember it. We were worried about having our first child vaccinated because when he was about 2 months old he got an eye infection that required drops. One time when we were administering them he fainted, he was out cold.

Our GP kept asking if we thought it had been a seizure but as there were no physical indicators like eye rolling or shaking we didn't think it had been.

It never happened again but did make us very wary. Our GP at that time was brilliant and having been told that of course it was our decision I asked him what he would do. He said in our position he wouldn't give the vaccine to his child, so we didn't and because of what happened when he was a baby, we didn't have his brother vaccinated either.

I'm surprised that none of your D's midwives have ever heard about it but then again it was nearly 40 years ago.

Santana Tue 05-Jan-21 16:32:52

I don't remember anything either and my eldest is 40, so timing would be right.
Perhaps I dismissed it at the time because I had seen my 2 year old nephew with whooping cough and it was terrifying.

Shandy57 Tue 05-Jan-21 16:36:17

Having whooping cough is one of my worst childhood memories, I still feel scared now if a spicey food catches my breath.

Grannynannywanny Tue 05-Jan-21 16:37:10

My recollection is of the measles not whooping cough vaccine. My son was born in 1980 and had febrile convulsions. I was advised by the health visitor not to let him have the booster measles vaccination that was due.

Research later proved the advice wrong but she mad me anxious enough to accept it as gospel at the time.

My son had a very nasty bout of measles when he was around 10. All 4 of my grandchildren have received all of the recommended vaccinations at the appropriate times. If I could turn back the clock I would make sure my son had his as his sister had done uneventfully 2 years before him. I feel strongly that we need to give them all the protection we can.

Peasblossom Tue 05-Jan-21 16:48:00

I remember it. It started in the early 1970s with just two parents who believed their children’s brain damage was due to the vaccine. Journalists became involved and the whole thing blew up, enough for there to be some big new studies and for the Government to promise compensation if that was the case.

Thankfully, after about ten years of studying different cases and data, the studies concluded that the vaccine was safe.

After that it was the MMR that people worried about.

Nothing changes really does it?

Callistemon Tue 05-Jan-21 16:52:16

aussiedreamer I remember it too well in the 1970s.

There was a lot of controversy and I didn't get DC1 vaccinated - then she caught whooping cough aged 2. It was a horrible time and I felt very guilty.
My GP assured me it couldn't be whooping cough as it had been eradicated, but other GPs diagnosed it in neighbourhood children.

Callistemon Tue 05-Jan-21 16:57:41

Pertussis Vaccine Scare:

Barmeyoldbat Tue 05-Jan-21 17:20:58

My daughter was born in 1972. She didn't have the whooping cough vaccination at the right time as she had a bit of a cold. She was nearly 4 before she did have it and started having seizures not long after after. nobody could say why a healthy there year old should start having seizures out of the blue. Also has some learning difficulties. I always blamed the whooping cough jab and my son 5 children (now adults) have not had the whooping cough jab.

EllanVannin Tue 05-Jan-21 17:23:19

Both my D's when born in the 60's had the Whooping cough vaccination. I didn't hesitate, after having seen the worst case while working on a children's infection ward.
The benefit outweighed any rare side-effect.

Whooping cough is a killer. You have to witness the disease to see how distressing it is to a small child.

They also had the " sugar lumps " for polio too. It was known as the Sabin vaccine.

midgey Tue 05-Jan-21 17:58:41

Certainly remember this, lots of discussions about it at the time. It is a very long time ago and things are very different now.

Genty Tue 05-Jan-21 18:06:44

Thousands of babies may have been mistakenly injected with incorrect vaccines in the 1970s, The Observer has discovered.

Confidential records belonging to drug giant GlaxoWellcome show three-month-old infants were potentially given cholera jabs instead of triple vaccines for preventing whooping cough, diphtheria and tetanus.

The company announced last night it would be launching an immediate investigation into the mix-up and the Department of Health also promised to take up the matter. Dr Gordon Cook, an expert in tropical medicine, said it was 'potentially a very serious problem'.

The mix-up is the latest in a series of disclosures about GlaxoWellcome in the 1970s. In July The Observer revealed that thousands of British babies had been given whooping cough vaccine that had not passed crucial safety tests, while claims that sheep and cattle vaccines had been given to Irish babies were blamed on a clerical error.

Septimia Tue 05-Jan-21 18:08:35

I remember it too. But I'd had all the vaccinations available, as had DH, so DS got all his too. I thought the debate was really mostly a fad (although, of course, there was a minority of genuine cases where there were problems).

Nannytopsy Tue 05-Jan-21 18:15:56

My son had neonatal convulsions ( in the 36 hours after delivery) and the paediatrician advised against the triple vaccine. He had the diphtheria and tetanus without the whooping cough. He caught it when he was about 9 and of course it was pretty horrible for him.

BlueBelle Tue 05-Jan-21 18:43:09

I remember it very clearly and didn’t know what to do I asked my Gp at the time what he would do ( as I knew he had children) and he said he wasn’t giving his own children the vaccine, so I didn’t None of mine had that vaccine although they had all the others and yes I m sure it was the whopping cough one

Nandalot Tue 05-Jan-21 19:33:30

We lived in Hampshire when my DD was born in mid 70s and they would not give her the vaccine until she was two because she had bad excema and we had a family history of asthma. Of course, she caught measles aged 22 months and was very poorly with it though thankfully no lasting ill effects. Then when she was eight we moved to a new village and the next week she was ill with whooping cough. Fortunately none of her new friends succumbed otherwise we would have been none too popular,

Callistemon Tue 05-Jan-21 19:45:49

Confidential records belonging to drug giant GlaxoWellcome show three-month-old infants were potentially given cholera jabs instead of triple vaccines for preventing whooping cough, diphtheria and tetanus

I thought the whooping cough vaccine was given separately to the one for diphtheria.
Measles vaccination was given later, at about 15 months.
If she had a cholera vaccination by mistake, that may be fortuitous as she has travelled in the Far East.

Routine smallpox vaccination ended in 1971.

SueDonim Tue 05-Jan-21 19:53:43

I remember this clearly as my sons were born in 75 & 79. I particularly recall hearing an item on Woman’s Hour about it. Neither of my sons and later, neither of my daughters had the pertussis vaccine as there is a history of fits on both sides of our family.

No 1 son caught Whooping Cough, in around ‘82, when he was seven, and I see from Callistemon’s link that there was an outbreak that year. However, we knew no one who had WC and ds passed it on to no one, despite it being over the Christmas/NY period when we’d seen lots of people. At that time, no one has suggested he had WC, the doctor said was just the remains of a virus and he could also go to school if he felt well enough!

I think the pertussis vaccine may have been reformulated since the 70’s.

Callistemon Tue 05-Jan-21 19:56:45

SueDonim DD caught it in 1975/76; she must have played with other toddlers as we used to meet informally and the children across the road all caught it.
I was expecting DC2 and up most nights with the poor child whooping and coughing.
As I said previously my GP said it "had been eradicated".
Silly old duffer.

Oldbat1 Tue 05-Jan-21 20:49:22

I had premature twins in 1980 born at 28wks gestation with health issues. I can distinctly remember sitting on the ward in Great Ormond Street Hospital when two Professors were disagreeing about them having whooping cough injection. They didn’t have the injection. My daughter caught it whilst pregnant and was very poorly.

LadyHonoriaDedlock Tue 05-Jan-21 21:07:02

My daughter was born in 1980 when the controversy was at its height. There was no question for us: she had her shot.

Nothing is ever perfect and there were undoubtedly cases of brain damage caused by the whooping cough (pertussis). Of course if you see publicity given to these cases in the media your natural instinct is to think that if it could happen to the child on the telly then it could just as easily happen to your child. This is a well-known con of course, one on which for example the national lottery runs ("winning the lottery can't be that unlikely because somebody wins nearly every week"). But the number cases of vaccine-caused brain damage were very small not only in comparison to the number of vaccines administered, but in comparison to the number of cases of brain damage caused by whooping cough itself. Ever seen a child turning blue with uncontrolled coughing and unable to breathe?

Nothing is completely without risks, but if you balance the risks the scales come down firmly on the side of the vaccine. You know it makes sense.

Jusu48 Tue 05-Jan-21 21:27:22

My son was born in 1972 and had all the vaccines offered, never gave it a thought. My daughter was born in 1975 and there was extensive TV coverage about the dangers of the Whooping Cough vaccine which frightened me to death so she wasn’t vaccinated. She got whooping cough when she was 7 years old and it was horrendous. I wonder how little children survive it. Thankfully I have never had to make such a decision again.

Bathsheba Tue 05-Jan-21 21:43:49

My daughter was born in 1971 and had all the vaccines. However, when my son came along a couple of years later we were advised by our GP not to give him the whooping cough vaccine because he had suffered from siezures. Later, when the children were around 5 and 7 they both contracted whooping cough, so now of course I'm wondering whether my daughter did in fact have the correct vaccine. I will never know!