Panel recommends adult pertussis vaccine

An increase in the number of teens and adults with whooping cough poses risks to unprotected infants.

By Susan J. Landers — Posted Nov. 28, 2005

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

Washington -- Most adults who need a tetanus and diphtheria booster should now be given a single dose of a newly approved vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis, or Tdap, instead, according to Oct. 26 recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

The new vaccine, which was approved for use in adults last June, adds protection from pertussis to the traditional tetanus-diphtheria, or Td, booster.

The vaccine should not be administered within two years of the time a Td shot was given, the committee said.

Adults who are in close contact with infants younger than 1 year and women who have just given birth or are of childbearing age are also being urged to receive the Tdap vaccine if two years have passed since their last Td booster. Recommendations for health care workers, pregnant women and adults older than 65 are still being developed.

The new recommendations are intended to reduce the rising incidence of pertussis in the United States.

The CDC received reports of about 26,000 cases of pertussis in 2004, but the actual number is probably closer to 600,000 cases a year, said Katrina Kretsinger, MD, a medical epidemiologist with the CDC.

The disease often goes unreported because many physicians don't recognize it in their adult patients. Difficulties in establishing an exact diagnosis can also cause many cases to be missed, said Susan Rehm, MD, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, which sponsored a Nov. 9 briefing on the ACIP recommendations.

Adults now account for nearly one-third of all pertussis cases, said Dr. Rehm, and those numbers are increasing. Among adults 20 and older, the number of pertussis cases rose 150% from 2003 to 2004.

Immunity provided by the vaccine begins to decline after about five to 10 years, said Dr. Kretsinger. "This means that adolescents and adults can become ill with pertussis."

Although the disease is serious among adults, it is usually not fatal. The greater danger is the possibility that pertussis will transmit to young infants who are not yet fully immunized, to whom it can be much more serious and even fatal.

The new vaccine, Adacel, is manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur.

Back to top

External links

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on pertussis (link)

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn