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Effectiveness of whooping cough treatment decreases after fifth dose
09.13.2012New research from the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center indicates that the diphtheria, tetanus, acelluar pertussis vaccine (DTaP) ceased to prevent pertussis - normally called whooping cough - as effectively after five annual doses. The study appears in the latest edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Multiple news sources report that more than 26,000 individuals in the U.S. have contracted the bacterial respiratory infection this year. An article by Time states that the decline of the vaccination's protective abilities over time may help explain the increased prevalence of whooping cough outbreaks in recent years.
Information provided by the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) says that whooping cough - whose initial symptoms are similar to a common cold - causes more than 50 percent of infants afflicted with the disease to require the attention of emergency department physicians when their unrelenting coughing fits lead to a hospitalization. Booster shots may be available from urgent care services or immediate care centers.
Conducting this study, Kaiser analysts looked at more than 275 children between 4- and 12-years old who had contracted whooping cough and almost 3,500 youngsters who weren't ill, all of whom had received five vaccinations, in order to determine the odds of developing the illness depending on the amount of time since the fifth vaccination. The researchers' findings indicate that the vaccination becomes 40 percent less effective every year following the fifth treatment.
"The findings suggest that whooping cough control measures may need to be reconsidered. Prevention of future outbreaks may be best achieved by developing new pertussis-containing vaccines or reformulating current vaccines to provide long-lasting immunity," said lead author Nicola Klein, co-director of the Kaiser vaccine center.
"That said, the vaccine is effective and remains an important tool for protection against whooping cough for children and the communities in which they live, and following current CDC recommendations remains important," she added.
Time spoke with a handful of experts who pointed out that in the area of Kaiser's location in northern California, more than 10 percent of children are not fully vaccinated, which increases the likelihood of whooping cough in that area. The news source also notes that no vaccine in existence is 100 percent effective.
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