Date of Conferral
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a vaccine-preventable disease that is on the rise in the United States, a trend which has been attributed to vaccination exemption. Indeed, the pertussis outbreak that occurred in February, 2012 in Ocean County, New Jersey was associated with vaccine exemption. Considering that pertussis is deadly to young children, it is important to understand why this disease rate is on the rise. The research questions were focused on whether a relationship existed between pertussis status (no, yes) and exemption status (no, yes), sex (male, female), and county type (Middlesex, Ocean, or Other), using a theoretical foundation of eco-social theory. The methodology used in the study was a retrospective case-control design. Archival data were collected on residents of Ocean County New Jersey; Middlesex County, New Jersey; and New Jersey as a whole using nonprobability purposive sampling (n = 63,000). A power analysis was conducted for sample size and chi square test of association was performed for data analysis. The results supported the hypotheses that a significant difference existed in the prevalence of pertussis between Ocean County, Middlesex County, and all other counties in New Jersey. The data showed that the odds of being afflicted with pertussis for those residents of Ocean County was greater than it was for those residents living in other counties in New Jersey, though sex was not found to be a significant variable. This study can promote social change by providing public health officials important knowledge about the nature of the outbreak, supporting public health practices designed for the population at risk. Resource allocation can be more specifically targeted to enhance disease reduction by creating programs designed to populations presenting the greatest risk of disease spread.