Television viewers were terrified. Physicians' phones were ringing off the hook. To Harry Jennison, MD, executive director of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Evanston, Ill, it was reminiscent of the polio scare in the early 1950s. "Parents were hysterical," he says.
In the Cleveland, Ohio area, "it was devastating in every pediatrician's office," according to Shaker Heights pediatrician Leonard P. Rome, MD, chairman of the AAP's Chapter Chairmen's Committee. "Doctors were calling each other and saying, 'Are you still giving pertussis [vaccine]?' " (Some physicians actually did halt pertussis immunizations temporarily.)
In the mountains of northern New Mexico, "inquiries about the vaccine have increased 25%," estimates Española pediatrician James D. Waltner, MD.
And as far west as the Pacific coast, "we have had a lot more explaining to do," says Robert Meechan, MD, professor of pediatrics at the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland and director of the university's pediatric