Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, also known as the 100-day cough, is on the rise. Many new cases are seen in young and older adults.
The reason for the recurrence of this disease is rapidly waning immunity from the new acellular vaccine. About 25 years ago a new form of pertussis vaccine was developed because the old vaccine on occasion could cause side effects due to minuscule remnants of the tissue culture cells used to make the vaccine. This tendency to side effects was eliminated with the “no cellular remnant” acellular vaccine.
Unfortunately the new vaccine doesn’t stimulate as strong an immune response as the old one. In fact, recent studies show that within four-to-five years after the last of the series of five childhood pertussis shots, the protective antibodies have fallen by 50 percent.
Interestingly, other countries in the world that still use the old-style vaccine are not seeing an increase in pertussis.
The answer to the problem is to re-vaccinate. For adults it is recommended that when their every-10-year tetanus shot is due that they also receive the acellular pertussis.
This is more important than just a nuisance cough because whooping cough has a 10 percent mortality rate.