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Whooping Cough Vaccine Less Effective Over Time: Study
Date:11/27/2012

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Nov. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Vaccination does safeguard children against whooping cough, but its protective effect seems to lessen over time, new research finds.

The 2010 outbreak of whooping cough (pertussis) in California, which sickened more than 9,000 people and left 10 infants dead, prompted an examination of the current vaccine's effectiveness. That study concluded that the vaccine is effective but loses power over the years, leaving children 7 to 10 years old particularly susceptible.

"The pertussis vaccine is our best protection against disease," said the study's lead author, Lara Misegades, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. "We found that unvaccinated children were eight times more likely to be a pertussis case than vaccinated children. Parents should ensure children complete the childhood series and make sure your children get the adolescent booster too."

In the United States this year, more than 36,000 whooping cough cases have been reported, including 16 deaths -- most in infants younger than 3 months old, according to the CDC.

Because the vaccine's protective shield diminishes over time, health experts have suggested that the current vaccine dosing schedule may need reevaluation.

"We're continuing to evaluate the changing epidemiology [of pertussis], but it's too early to speculate if there's a need for an additional booster," Misegades said.

Results of the study appear in the Nov. 28 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The vaccine, commonly referred to as the DTaP vaccine, also includes immunizations for diphtheria and tetanus. It is given in a five-dose series at 2, 4 and 6 months; at 15 to 18 months; and between 4 and 6 years. An adolescent booster is recommended between age 11 and 12.

The current study was designed to evaluate how long it h
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