Editorials

Collapse reactions after whole cell pertussis vaccination

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.316.7135.876 (Published 21 March 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:876

Pertussis remains a bigger risk than collapse after vaccination

  1. Elizabeth Miller, Head
  1. Immunisation Division, Public Health Laboratory Service Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, London NW9 5EQ

    Papers p 902

    “No child should be denied immunisation without serious thought as to the consequences both for the individual and the community.” This powerful statement prefaces the chapter on contraindications in the new edition of the United Kingdom's Handbook on Immunisation against Infectious Disease.1 In the 1970s a barricade of contraindications to pertussis vaccine was erected in response to undue concerns about safety. As the evidence has been reassessed, this barricade has now been largely demolished.

    In 1981, without scientific substantiation, pertussis vaccine was contraindicated for a wide range of conditions, including cerebral irritation in the neonatal period and a family history of epilepsy or other diseases of the central nervous system.2 Interpretation of these recommendations was left to the …

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