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Study Finds Older Whooping Cough Vaccine More Effective Than Newer Version

Whole-cell pertussis vaccines better than acellular vaccines (May 20)

According to a new study, teenagers who received older whole-cell whooping cough vaccines as children had better protection against pertussis compared with teens who were given newer acellular vaccines. The findings were published online in the June 2013 issue of Pediatrics.

During the 1990s, the U.S. switched from whole-cell pertussis vaccines (in the diphtheria, tetanus, and whole-cell pertussis combination vaccine DTwP) to combined acelluar pertussis (DTaP) vaccines.

The new study looked at individuals born between 1994 and 1999 who received four pertussis-containing vaccines during the first 2 years of life at Kaiser Permanente Northern California. Some individuals received DTwP, and others received DTaP.

The authors found that during a 2009–2010 pertussis outbreak, teenagers who had received DTaP as children had a six times higher risk of contracting pertussis because of waning immunity compared with those who had received DTwP. Among teenagers who received DTaP, receipt of the Tdap booster did not overcome the advantage in protection from pertussis associated with previously receiving DTwP vaccines.

The authors concluded that research into developing new pertussis vaccines with improved safety and long-lasting immunity is warranted.

Sources: Pediatrics; May 20, 2013; and ACP; May 20, 2013.

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