During the 1990s, the U.S. switched from whole-cell pertussis vaccine (in the diphtheria, tetanus, and whole-cell pertussis combination vaccine DTwP) to combined acelluar pertussis (DTaP) vaccines. The study, “Comparative Effectiveness of Acellular Versus Whole-Cell Pertussis Vaccines in Teenagers,” in the June 2013 issue of Pediatrics (published online May 20) looked at individuals born between 1994 and 1999 who received four pertussis-containing vaccines in the first two years of life. Some individuals received DTwP, and others received DTaP. The authors found that during a 2009 and 2010 pertussis outbreak, those teenagers who received DTaP had a six times higher risk of contracting pertussis due to waning immunity compared to those who 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 conclude that that research into developing new pertussis vaccines with improved safety and long-lasting immunity is warranted.
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