Web Zap*Germs Archive

May 14, 2005

Whooping Cough Vaccine Booster to Protect Teenagers

Update 10 Jun 2005: The FDA has just approved a second pertussis booster vaccine, this one for adults and teens, for use in the US.

To combat a resurgence of whooping-cough (pertussis) cases in teens, the US government has approved a whooping-cough booster component to the tetanus and diphtheria booster that kids are supposed to get between ages 10 and 18.

The pertussis booster is needed because it's been found that childhood vaccinations for the disease -- which is a killer when caught by infants -- wears off by adulthood.
Whooping cough, also called pertussis, is a bacterial infection that causes a cough so violent in can break a rib. Initial coldlike symptoms lead to fits of 16 to 20 coughs in a row that leave patients gasping for air — the distinctive “whoop” that gave the disease its name.

Babies and young children have been vaccinated against whooping cough...since the 1940s, causing the disease to plummet in industrialized nations.

But it’s on the rise again, thanks largely to outbreaks in teenagers and adults that illustrate the vaccine’s protection wears off, often by adolescence. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention received 18,957 reports of whooping cough last year, up from 11,647 in 2003 and just 1,707 in 1980 — and about a third are among adolescents.

Experts say that’s certainly an underestimate, because whooping cough frequently goes undiagnosed in teens and adults.


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