With thanks to Jennifer for permission to publish her letter to the Calgary Herald and Alberta Health Officials.
From: Jennifer Cote
Sent: Thursday, August 10, 2017 10:04 AM
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org ; Heather Fraser ; email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: August 6, 2017 Calgary Herald article regarding Pertussis outbreak in Alberta – Failure of Alberta Government and Calgary Herald to provide risk information of dTap vaccine during pregnancy
I am writing in response to your August 6, 2017 article in the Calgary Herald titled “Whooping cough outbreak continues in Alberta with 500 cases reported” (http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/whooping-cough-cases-in-alberta-surge-to-more-than-500).
I note the article states that Alberta Health Services is offering the Pertussis vaccine to all pregnant women in areas considered at risk. This is outlined in their November 2016 Frequently Asked Questions document titled “Pertussis Immunization (Vaccination) in Pregnancy – Central Zone” (http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/assets/info/hp/phys/cen/if-hp-phys-moh-cz-pertussis-immunization-pregnancy-faq.pdf). The document indicates that the vaccine administered to pregnant women in Alberta is the dTap vaccine.
According to the Alberta Immunization Program Standards Manual
(http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/info/page10802.aspx), the dTap vaccines administered to pregnant women in Alberta are Adacel (manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur Limited), and Boostrix (manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline Inc.).
In reviewing the manufacturer’s product monologues for these two vaccines (attached – taken from the manufacturers websites), it is frighteningly clear that neither product has been properly evaluated for safety in pregnant women in a controlled, representative study. The Adacel monologue specifically states that the effects of the product on the “development of the embryo and fetus has not been assessed”.
Is it not irresponsible that our current government is making recommendations related to immunization for pregnant Albertans that are completely unsupported by any scientific data suggesting they are safe? In the case of Adacel, it appears that our government’s recommendations potentially contradict usage information provided by the manufacturer!
We are continually assured by health authorities that vaccine recommendations are thoroughly studied and evidence based, however, this is clearly not the case in this situation. Is our government not in a position of extreme liability should any negative outcomes to mother or fetus result from the administration of the Adacel vaccine specifically? After all, neither manufacturer suggests the vaccine is safe when administered to pregnant populations. This is prime example of the extreme ignorance and malfeasance displayed by our government surrounding the issue of vaccine safety.
As the Calgary herald undoubtedly attracts a large reader base, my hope is that you would update your publication to direct readers to this issue so they are able to make an informed choice about receiving the Pertussis vaccine during pregnancy. Yet again, the Alberta government and medical authorities have completely failed to provide the relevant information to Albertans that would allow them to do so.
Link to Boosterix package insert (pdf)
Effects of increased inflammatory markers during pregnancy – Evidence of changes in fetal brain development