A growing number of adolescents in Northern California (and possibly elsewhere) are facing greater risks of contracting whooping cough – pertussis – because the vaccine normally used to prevent it is proving to be less effective than used to be the case.
Higher-than-usual incidents of pertussis in 2010 and 2014 led a group of doctors affiliated with Kaiser Permanente to look into why, and an abstract of their study’s findings was published online in Pediatrics earlier this month. The full report will appear in the magazine’s March print edition.
The vaccine they looked at is ordinarily referred to as TDAP, because it is intended to guard against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. It is common practice for it to be administered as many as five times to children when they are between the ages of four and six. Adolescents receive a slightly altered version of the vaccine as a booster, but the study found that effectiveness is waning a year or so after that booster dose. And the more time passed after a teen had the booster, the greater his or her risk for pertussis was, the study revealed.
By the second or third year after receiving the booster, the teen had virtually no protection against this deadly disease.
The abstract didn’t reveal what plans, if any, the American Academy of Pediatrics has to address this issue.