Whooping Cough Vaccine for Teens, Adults
Vaccines Should Help Reduce Recent Rise in Whooping Cough
March 15, 2005 - An FDA expert panel has recommended the approval of a pair
of new vaccines designed to prevent whooping cough in adolescents and
Panelists unanimously backed the whooping cough vaccine Boostrix, for 10- to
18-year-olds, and Adacel, for patients between 11 and 64.
Children currently receive a combination diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping
cough vaccine (DPT). Infants are typically vaccinated with three shots at 2, 4,
and 6 months of age.
Whooping Cough on the Rise
But immunity to whooping cough -- also known as pertussis -- and the other
two diseases wanes over years, leaving teens and adults vulnerable to all
three. The diphtheria and tetanus booster shots available to adolescents and
adults don't include whooping cough protection, leaving wide swaths of the
population open to infection.
Whooping cough infections have steadily risen
in the U.S. since the mid-1970s, with 18,000 cases reported in 2004. While the
disease is typically not serious in adults, up to 75% of all cases in infants
and children are thought to come from infected family members.
Whooping cough was a major cause of infant death in the early and mid-1900s.
Today the disease still kills an average of 25 infants per year in the U.S.,
according to the CDC.
The vaccines are similar to shots already widely given to U.S. infants and
"Adding pertussis to the current tetanus and diphtheria booster shot for
teens is a logical strategy to prevent this disease in adolescents," says
Colin Marchant, an adjunct associate professor at Boston University and a
GlaxoSmithKline consultant, in a company statement. GlaxoSmithKline, a WebMD
sponsor, makes Boostrix.
Whooping Cough Vaccine Side Effects
About two-thirds of 5,800 patients given Adacel had pain at the site of
their injection, while about 5% had fevers after vaccination, according to data
from Adacel's manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur.
"Most fevers were mild and short in duration," says Luc Kuykens, MD,
the company's vice president for regulatory affairs. Rates of both of the
reactions, in addition to side effects including swelling, were similar to
those seen with available vaccines containing only diphtheria and whooping
cough protection, the company says.
Less than 1% of patients had other reactions with the whooping cough
vaccine, including dizziness and fainting. This is similar to reactions
experienced by patients taking diphtheria and tetanus combination vaccines.
Adacel is already available in Canada and Germany.
New Frontier for Teens, Adults
The three-vaccine combination has never been routinely given to adolescents
and adults. Experts urged companies to conduct follow-up studies testing the
safety and effectiveness of the new whooping cough vaccines as more and more
patients receive repeat booster shots every 10 years.
"I think it clearly needs to be something that is incorporated in the
plans for further evaluation of these vaccines," says Gary D. Overturf, MD,
a professor of pediatrics at the University of New Mexico and chairman of the