Protection against whooping cough waned during the five years after fifth dose of DTaP

September 12, 2012

OAKLAND, Calif. − Protection against whooping cough (also called pertussis) waned during the five years after the fifth dose of the combined diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine, according to researchers from the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center. The fifth dose of DTaP is routinely given to 4- to 6-year-old children prior to starting kindergarten.

The study appears in the current online issue of the .

This is the first study to specifically focus on the large population of highly vaccinated children who had exclusively received DTaP vaccines since birth and for whom enough time had passed since their fifth dose that DTaP vaccine waning could be measured, said the researchers. They explained that the study period included a large outbreak that occurred in California during 2010. Researchers examined the relationship between time since vaccination with the likelihood of a positive pertussis test in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California population, which includes 3.3 million members in an system with and a central laboratory.

Researchers compared 277 children, 4 to 12 years of age, who were positive for pertussis with 3,318 children who were negative for pertussis and separately with 6,086 matched controls. They assessed the risk of pertussis in children from 2006 to 2011 in California relative to the time since the fifth dose of DTaP and found that protection from pertussis after the fifth dose of DTaP vaccine wanes more than 40 percent each year. The amount of protection remaining after five years depends heavily on the initial effectiveness of the fifth dose of DTaP, according to Nicola Klein, MD, PhD, co-director of the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center and the lead author of the study.

If the initial effectiveness of the fifth dose of DTaP was 95 percent, the effectiveness of DTaP would decrease to 71 percent after five years. Whereas if the initial effectiveness was 90 percent, it would decline to 42 percent after five years, explained the researchers.

"The findings suggest that whooping cough control measures may need to be reconsidered. Prevention of future outbreaks may be best achieved by developing new pertussis–containing vaccines or reformulating current vaccines to provide long-lasting immunity," said Klein.

"That said, the DTaP vaccine is effective and remains an important tool for protection against for children and the communities in which they live, and following current CDC recommendations remains important."

The CDC currently recommends five DTaP shots for . The first three shots are given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. The fourth shot is given at 15 through 18 months of age, and a fifth shot is given when a child enters school, at 4 through 6 years of age.

The first was developed in the 1930s and was in widespread use by the mid-1940s, when pertussis vaccine was combined with and tetanus toxoids to make the combination whole cell pertussis vaccine DTP. In 1991, concerns about DTP safety led to the development of the acellular pertussis DTaP vaccines that are associated with fewer side effects. DTaP vaccines have completely replaced the whole cell DTP vaccines in the United States as well as in many countries around the world.

Explore further: What did we learn from the 2010 California whooping cough epidemic?

Related Stories

What did we learn from the 2010 California whooping cough epidemic?

July 19, 2012
Because whooping cough (pertussis) is almost as contagious as measles (affecting ~12-17 individuals with each case), clinicians are required to report cases of this bacterial respiratory tract infection to the state's department ...

Washington pediatricians receive regular requests for alternative child immunization schedules

November 28, 2011
Seventy-seven percent of Washington state pediatricians report that they are sometimes or frequently asked to provide alternative childhood vaccine schedules for their patients, according to a new study from Seattle Children's ...

Study: No significant rise in seizure risk from common kids' vaccine

February 22, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Children who receive a combination vaccine known as DTaP-IPV-Hib have no significant increased risk of febrile seizure, a convulsion triggered by a fever, during the week after vaccination, researchers in Denmark ...

Recommended for you

Decrease in sunshine, increase in Rickets

November 17, 2017
A University of Toronto student and professor have teamed up to discover that Britain's increasing cloudiness during the summer could be an important reason for the mysterious increase in Rickets among British children over ...

Anti-malaria drug shows promise as Zika virus treatment

November 17, 2017
A new collaborative study led by researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) and UC San Diego School of Medicine has found that a medication used to prevent and treat malaria may also be effective ...

Scientists identify biomarkers that indicate likelihood of survival in infected patients

November 17, 2017
Scientists have identified a set of biomarkers that indicate which patients infected with the Ebola virus are most at risk of dying from the disease.

Research team unlocks secrets of Ebola

November 16, 2017
In a comprehensive and complex molecular study of blood samples from Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, published today (Nov. 16, 2017) in Cell Host and Microbe, a scientific team led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison has ...

Study raises possibility of naturally acquired immunity against Zika virus

November 16, 2017
Birth defects in babies born infected with Zika virus remain a major health concern. Now, scientists suggest the possibility that some women in high-risk Zika regions may already be protected and not know it.

A structural clue to attacking malaria's 'Achilles heel'

November 16, 2017
Researchers from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and PATH's Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) have shed light on how the human immune system recognizes the malaria parasite though investigation of antibodies generated ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.