Currently (2013), the state of Wisconsin has the highest incidence rate of Pertussis ("Whopping cough"), higher than Vermont and Washington, both whom have declared Pertussis to be at epidemic levels. Both my daughter and I have been vaccinated for it in the past. There has been considerable unfounded criticism surrounding the vaccination since the 1970's. As it turns out, it was not based on anything reliable. The vaccine manufacturers did not come up with the right answers for the fear mongers, and the vaccination was publicly attacked and discredited. The vaccine was further altered in the early 80’s to an acellular structure and is wholly unable to cause illness. Nonetheless, we are presently experiencing a Pertussis epidemic in the state of Wisconsin. Having a few vaccinaphobic friends, I guess I understand how these myths keep on living on. Back in the early days of vaccines, they were using inactivated antigens (the polio vaccine, for example) which they did not realize at the time could gain the right stuff from our bodies and reactivate themselves. Science has changed a lot since the 1950's. But people's habit of chosing to "believe what they want to believe" has not.
(The following is an article from Wikipedia)
Society and culture"Much of the controversy surrounding the DPT vaccine in the 1970s and 1980s related to the question of whether the whole-cell pertussis component caused permanent brain injury in rare cases, called pertussis vaccine encephalopathy. Despite this possibility, doctors recommended the vaccine due to the overwhelming public health benefit, because the claimed rate was very low (one case per 310,000 immunizations, or about 50 cases out of the 15 million immunizations each year in the United States), and the risk of death from the disease was high (pertussis killed thousands of Americans each year before the vaccine was introduced).
No studies showed a causal connection, and later studies showed no connection of any type between administration of the DPT vaccine and permanent brain injury. The alleged vaccine-induced brain damage proved to be an unrelated condition, infantile epilepsy. Eventually evidence against the hypothesized existence of pertussis vaccine encephalopathy mounted to the point that in 1990, the Journal of American Medical Association called it a "myth" and "nonsense".
However, before that point, criticism of the studies showing no connection and a few well-publicized anecdotal reports of permanent disability that were blamed on the DPT vaccine gave rise to anti-DPT movements in the 1970s. The negative publicity and fear-mongering caused the immunization rate to fall in several countries, including Great Britain, Sweden, and Japan. In many cases, a dramatic increase in the incidence of pertussis followed.
Unscientific claims about the vaccine pushed suppliers of the vaccines out of the market. In the United States, low profit margins and an increase in vaccine-related lawsuits led many manufacturers to stop producing the DPT vaccine by the early 1980s.
In 1982, the television documentary "DPT: Vaccine Roulette" depicted the lives of children whose severe disabilities were inaccurately blamed on the DPT vaccine by reporter Lea Thompson. The negative publicity generated by the documentary led to a tremendous increase in the number of lawsuits filed against vaccine manufacturers. By 1985, manufacturers of vaccines had difficulty obtaining liability insurance. The price of the DPT vaccine skyrocketed, leading to shortages around the country. Only one manufacturer of the DPT vaccine remained in the U.S. by the end of 1985. To avert a vaccine crisis, Congress in 1986 passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA), which established a federal no-fault system to compensate victims of injury caused by mandated vaccines. The majority of claims that have been filed through the NCVIA have been related to injuries allegedly caused by the whole-cell DPT vaccine.
The concerns about side effects led Yuji Sato to introduce an even safer acellular version of the pertussis vaccine for Japan in 1981. The acellular pertussis vaccine was approved in the United States in 1992 for use in the combination DTaP vaccine. Research has shown that the acellular vaccine has a rate of adverse events similar to that of a Td vaccine (a tetanus-diphtheria vaccine containing no pertussis vaccine)."