As a pediatric resident, I spent a sleepless night in an intensive care unit pinching the toe of a 6-week-old boy to remind him to breathe. His parents thought it was just his first cold, until they found him breathless and blue. Pertussis produces a month of coughing for a kindergartner. If that kindergartner passes it along to an infant, it can be fatal.
Despite receiving full medical support and antibiotics for two weeks he continued to cough and stop breathing. Don’t let anyone tell you these diseases are harmless.
The Yes on 1 campaign will say the pertussis vaccine is imperfect, and they are right. It takes several doses to develop immunity and, largely because low vaccine rates have allowed more aggressive strains to flourish, a fully vaccinated child can still get whooping cough. But what they won’t share is the highest rates of whooping cough in the country are in areas where vaccine opt-out rates are the highest – and Maine leads this list.
They also haven’t stayed up all night keeping a baby with whooping cough alive.
I urge you to vote no on Question 1 on March 3. If not for your child then for someone else’s.
Dr. Jeff Peterson