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Whooping Cough Booster OK'd for Teens, Adults

Adacel Also Includes Boosters Against Tetanus, Diphtheria
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WebMD Health News

June 10, 2005 -- The FDA has approved a new combination booster shot for whooping cough (pertussis), tetanus, and diphtheria. The vaccine, called Adacel, is intended for adolescents and adults 11-64 years of age.

Adacel is the first vaccine approved as a pertussis booster for adults. Vaccines for prevention of tetanus and diphtheria in adolescents and adults have been available for many years.

In early May, the FDA approved a similar vaccine called Boostrix for use in adolescents 10-18 years of age.Boostrix for use in adolescents 10-18 years of age. Adacel is made by Sanofi Pasteur. Boostrix is made by GlaxoSmithKline. Both companies are WebMD sponsors.

Goal: Reduce Whooping Cough Cases

Whooping cough is a highly contagious, potentially serious illness in adolescents and adults. It can cause prolonged cough and missed days at school and work. Whooping cough is more frequently severe and can even be fatal in babies, particularly in infants too young to be fully vaccinated.

Since 1980, the rates of reported whooping cough cases have been increasing in adolescentswhooping cough cases have been increasing in adolescents and adults, as well as in young infants. Adolescents and adults can spread whooping cough infection to susceptible young infants and other family members.

Guidelines Anticipated Soon

Recommendations about the new booster shots may be issued later this month, Sarah Long, MD, told WebMD in early June. Long is chief of infectious diseases at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia. She also serves on the CDC's working group on the whooping cough vaccine.

Long told WebMD that she expects the guidelines to focus on youths, since they may catch whooping cough at school and currently get a diphtheria-tetanus booster shot as part of their routine care. "This is really substitution of one vaccine for another," said Long.

Adacel's Clinical Testing

Adacel prompted robust immune responses and had a safety profile similar to an established tetanus-diphtheria booster shot in a study of more than 4,400 people aged 11-64. The study will appear in The Journal of the American Medical Association's June 22/29 edition.

The results showed that the whooping cough antibody response in adolescents and adults who got one shot of Adacel was at least as good as that of babies receiving three doses of a whooping cough-tetanus-diphtheria shot, says the FDA.

Adacel also prompted comparable protective responses to diphtheria and tetanus as a licensed tetanus-diphtheria vaccine.

Side Effects

In clinical trials, injection site pain and low-grade fever were more frequently seen in teens who got Adacel than among those who received a tetanus-diphtheria vaccine. Rates of side effects in adults were similar for Adacel and the tetanus-diphtheria vaccine, says the FDA.

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