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Letter From the Editor

Am J Dis Child. 1983;137(9):923. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1983.02140350095032.
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Dr Barrie's observations entitled "Campaign of Terror" reflect one viewpoint of the pertussis controversy in England. His remarks may be misconstrued in the United States if they stand alone.

England has experienced two major epidemics in the last five years; the first occurred from 1977 to 1979, and more than 100,000 cases were reported, and the second occurred in 1982, with 65,785 cases with 14 deaths. Heated debate has occurred in England concerning pertussis and pertussis vaccine. The salient points made by the pro and con debaters include the following:

  1. Pertussis vaccine is ineffective or marginally effective (the con group).

  2. Pertussis vaccine is effective but is not being administered to enough children (the pro group).

  3. Pertussis vaccine is dangerous and causes brain damage in a large number of children (the con group).

  4. Pertussis vaccine only causes brain damage rarely—once per 300,000 injections (by extrapolation once in


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