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Now there’s a growing consensus that something more needs to be done. Ideas include somehow pumping up the effectiveness of the vaccine or developing a new one. French scientists have been working on an experimental nasal spray vaccine.

Other ideas include administering the booster earlier than age 11 or adding another booster.

While some parents around the country have taken a stand against childhood vaccines, the outbreak is not being driven by unvaccinated children, according to the CDC. Most of the illnesses are in vaccinated youngsters, officials said.

Dr. Maxine Hayes, health officer for the Washington State Department of Health, said it is important that people not mistake waning immunity for flat-out ineffectiveness.

The vaccine is “still the best thing we have,” she said. And vaccinated people who get whooping cough don’t get as sick.

Omar Gonzalez of North Richland Hills, Texas, has become a believer in the vaccine, even though his fully vaccinated 11-year-old son caught whooping cough three years ago.

“Imagine seeing your son gasping for air,” Gonzalez said. “This is really bad.”

Gonzalez, who runs an investment company from his home, spent weeks caring for his son and then got sick himself.

“You don’t want this, man, I’m telling you. It’s scary,” he said.

Associated Press writer Donna Gordon Blankinship in Seattle contributed to this report.