Do we need to boost pertussis immunization within the existing UK vaccination schedule?
Pertussis infection is associated with significant morbidity in younger children (<4 years), which can include pneumonia, seizures and encephalopathy. Around one in 250 cases of pertussis in infants under the age of 6 months lead to death or severe brain damage. In the United Kingdom the control of pertussis infection has been based on a three-dose schedule of combined diphtheria, tetanus, whole-cell pertussis vaccine (DTPw) during the first 4 months of life. Coverage rates for primary vaccination are currently at high levels of over 90 per cent and infection rates are relatively low (approximately 1.2 per 100,000). However, there are concerns over the potential under-reporting of pertussis and clear shifts in the age pattern of notified cases are evident, with surveillance data suggesting a possible upward trend in the absolute numbers of infections in those at most risk (i.e. infants <3 months old). The addition of childhood booster dose(s) of pertussis vaccine to the standard schedule has potential clinical benefits and may be cost-effective. Selective adult booster immunization may also have a role to play in controlling the circulation of pertussis