Why new parents (and almost-parents) need pertussis vaccines


1 Like

The original vaccine was really primitive stuff - IIRC it was just pertussis cells that had gone through a couple chloroform extractions or something. It was just bacterial goo with nothing alive. You could have made it in a bucket. Now it is a couple purified proteins. But the original was obviously more antigenic because it was dirtier and probably had lots of lipids acting as an adjuvant, so it gave better protection.

Also, today we have the anti-vaxxers who not only risk their own kids but also put everyone else at risk by spoiling the benefits of herd immunity.


What do rusty nails have to do with anything? I know they’re reputed to carry tetanus, but is there really anything to that?

Maggie here is a link to additional medically reviewed information that may be useful to everyone. http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/bacterial_viral/whooping_cough.html#cat20564

Stepping on huge nails used to be a rite of childhood. I know I did it at about the age of 5 and it was off to the doctor for a tetanus booster.

It’s just puncture wounds in general are associated with tetanus because it’s an anaerobic bacteria that is killed by oxygen. It’s mostly found in soil.

If you were a kid running around barefoot with soil on your foot and then stepped on a nail, tetanus was a real possibility. The “rusty” part just implies scrap lumber where a kid would step on a nail, and “rusty nail” seems to be a common figure of speech.


Tetanus is a puncture wound + dirt thing, is my understanding. But the rusty nail makes a great puncture wound and if you’re working on an old house (as we do) there’s plenty of dirt.

1 Like

Came here to say the same. It’s an old wives’ tale, and not the sort of thing I expect Maggie to perpetuate.

Ah, but dying of infection is perhaps the best autism-prevention technique known to science. Take that, modern medicine!


I fully support this statement. My wife and I contracted pertussis over the summer, we’re in our early 50’s with grown kids so no life threaten issues to be concerned about for us, but man - no fun. I’ve had severe coughing for 10 weeks that’s just getting easer now. Please get a shot and protect your family.


I ran into a grandmother last week whose 5 month old grandchild had pertussis because his parents refused to vaccinate - he survived, but he was lucky, he was sick for two months. This is everywhere, and it doesn’t just affect newborns just because they are likely to die, my Godmother had it (again) as an adult and had petechiae on her chest from the coughing.

I had it when I was 6 months pregnant with my 3rd son, I coughed for two months and it was worst at night - even in the other room I kept my husband up at night, being immunocompromised when pregnant it was lucky I did not also get pneumonia on top of that. Fortunately for my newborn he got my antibodies when he was in the womb so that we didn’t have to wait for the vaccination they gave me in hospital after his delivery to work. You see, because of my neglect (I had the booster in grad school, more then 9 years previous) I had not had my booster and that is why I had it, I could have easily passed it on and killed my own child. Even if you are well pertussis is horrible, it just goes on and on and nothing helps at all. We are so lucky to have the technology to help, why deny yourself? Why not opt into society and help everyone and prevent its spread?


I believe the association of tetanus with rusty nails stems from the days when horses roamed the streets, distributing Clostridium tetani from their digestive tracts, along with nails from their shoes.

1 Like

I know it’s wrong, and it’s punishing innocent babies, but I’d really like these people to just get together and live in on a island away from the rest of us. Just go, pass your germs amongst yourself and stay on your island! /sigh


Rusty nails are the main reason people run off to get the Tdap shot. The reason I didn’t get a shot on account of my daughter’s impending birth was that I had had the shot some weeks before, on account of a rusty nail.

I caught this as a kid, and I’ll readily join the chorus telling people to get vaccinated.

This is a miserable disease at any age. The constant, insistent, overwhelming need to cough, while being afraid to cough because you’re going to keep on coughing until you throw up yet again. Your lungs and throat ache from the constant coughing. There is a pain in the pit of your stomach because there’s nothing left to vomit up any more, and everyone around you is feeling utterly helpless because there is little that they can do for you.


One of my favorite old-timey drinks!

1 Like

In New Zealand we’ve been having a pertussis epidemic for around two years now. Pregnant women can currently receive free immunisation in late pregnancy. It is also recommended that other family including grandparents also get the immunisation.

1 Like

This is great information – we hadn’t heard anything about this until our daughter’s 2-week checkup, at which point they realized I hadn’t had my Tdap.

My wife had had hers as part of her pregnancy checkups, but they didn’t think to ask about me. Doctors need to be better at making sure all household members are up-to-date with their vaccinations.

I figure I will eventually be hiding them in my attic.

Better get your Tdap first.

1 Like

Well, this news kind of blows if you happen to be allergic to the pertussis vaccination.