February 22, 2019
Cases of whooping cough in Maine in January of 2019 more than doubled the number of cases during that time last year. The state has the highest rate of pertussis in the country, and experts in the state are grappling with why, and what to do about it.
The Portland Press Herald examined the issue in a February 2019 article that looked at data including vaccination rates. Some believe that lower rates of vaccination in Maine are to blame for the increase in pertussis, but as Meghan May, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology and infectious disease at the UNE College of Osteopathic Medicine argued in a recent “Maine Voices” piece, the science behind vaccinations is more complicated than that. Her research is showing that the pertussis organism can evolve in response to the vaccine.
May echoed those statements in an interview for this most recent story. “Well more than half of the cases in Maine are in vaccinated children, fully vaccinated children, and that is not unique to Maine. It’s happening more and more all over the country,” she said.
May says this is not an argument not to vaccinate children against the disease, because it can still offer protection even if it loses effectiveness.