A new study by researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center, which is published in last week’s New England Journal of Medicine, is the latest to show that protection from the current whooping cough or pertussis vaccine fades over time.
“Since the 1990s, we’ve been seeing a surge in the number of whooping cough cases,” said Dr. Congeni. “This is due in part to protection from the current vaccine waning by the time a child reaches ages 8 to 11, but it’s also due to the fact that more parents are either skipping or delaying some vaccinations.”
While the current DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) vaccine may not offer the long-lasting protection of the previous vaccination, Dr. Congeni does not want to see a return to the old vaccine.
Although effective, the previous vaccine had side effects like swelling and pain at the injection site.
Until a new vaccine is developed, which can be shown to offer longer-lasting protection without unnecessary side effects, Dr. Congeni urges parents to make sure their kids are properly vaccinated to lessen the chance of outbreaks that leave at-risk populations vulnerable.
This includes young infants who are not protected until about 2 weeks after the second dose at age 4 months, as well as older kids whose prior protection may have diminished.
Newborns are the most likely to become seriously ill from whooping cough.
According to theCDC, of the 13 deaths this year from whooping cough, 11 were infants and two were toddlers. Whooping cough tends to be more severe for children who have not received any vaccinations.
Recent outbreaks also demonstrate why Dr. Congeni recommends the Tdap booster for teens and adults.
“If a teen or adult gets whooping cough, they will likely have a mild case and continue to go to school or work. This can increase exposure for younger kids who may not be fully protected, whether it’s by the parent’s choice or diminished protection.”