Findings support safety of whooping cough vaccine for older adults

A new study of the safety of the tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine supports the recommendation that those 65 and older get the vaccine to protect themselves and others, particularly young babies, from pertussis. Published online in Clinical Infectious Diseases, the findings come as reported U.S. cases of the bacterial infection, also known as whopping cough, are at the highest level since the 1950s.

An extremely contagious respiratory illness, puts infants at greatest risk for severe complications, including death. More than half of infants younger than 1 year old who get pertussis are hospitalized, according to the (CDC), and 1 or 2 in 100 hospitalized infants die. Immunity is difficult to maintain in the community because infants cannot be vaccinated until they are 2 months old. As a result, they may be at risk, especially from family members and care givers who have the disease.

In their study, Hung Fu Tseng, PhD, MPH, and his team at Kaiser Permanente Southern California found that adverse events following Tdap vaccination in seniors were mostly minor. "Although there is a small increased risk of injection site reaction following Tdap vaccination in the elderly, it is no more common than that following the traditional tetanus and (Td) vaccine," Dr. Tseng said.

The researchers' study included 119,573 seniors who received the Tdap vaccine and the same number of people who received the traditional Td vaccine. Safety data were collected from seven health maintenance organizations across the U.S. The risk for adverse events following vaccination was comparable among both groups.

The authors hope the findings will allay any fears among about the safety of the Tdap vaccine and prompt more doctors to urge across-the-board immunization, which is crucial in the wake of recent pertussis outbreaks, such as those in Minnesota, Washington state, Wisconsin, and elsewhere. Current recommendations call for infants older than 2 months, children, teens, adults (including pregnant women, parents, and health care workers), and those over 65 to be vaccinated.

"Pertussis immunization is important, particularly since one of the most common sources of pertussis in infants is their relatives, including their grandparents," Dr. Tseng said. "We suggest that clinicians follow CDC's recommendation and talk to older adult patients about vaccination against pertussis to protect themselves and their family members."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Pertussis reaches epidemic level in Washington state

Jul 20, 2012

(HealthDay) -- Pertussis rates may reach record levels this year in the United States, where Washington state is experiencing an ongoing epidemic, according to a report published in the July 20 issue of the ...

Recommended for you

Global impact of the Ebola outbreak

42 seconds ago

The Ebola virus has been spreading in West Africa since March, but the current outbreak over the past few weeks has reached new heights and elevated the crisis. More than 650 people have died, and in recent days it was learned ...

S.Korea detects second foot-and-mouth case

2 hours ago

South Korea on Monday reported its second case of foot-and-mouth disease in less than a week, triggering fearful memories of a devastating 2011 outbreak that forced the culling of millions of livestock.

Ebola kills Liberian doctor, 2 Americans infected

2 hours ago

(AP)—One of Liberia's most high-profile doctors has died of Ebola, officials said Sunday, and an American physician was being treated for the deadly virus, highlighting the risks facing health workers trying ...

Hepatitis C virus genotype 1 is most prevalent worldwide

3 hours ago

In one of the largest prevalence studies to date, researchers from the U.K. provide national, regional, and global genotype prevalence estimates for the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Findings published in Hepatology, a journa ...

1 in 3000 blood donors in England infected with hepatitis E

3 hours ago

The first systematic analysis of hepatitis E virus (HEV) transmission by blood components indicates that about 1 in 3000 donors in England have HEV in their plasma. The findings, published in The Lancet, suggest that around ...

Biologic treatments for RA carry similar infection risk

3 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The risk of hospitalized bacterial infections in older rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients is similar for rituximab or abatacept compared to etanercept, although it is higher for infliximab, ...

User comments