Whooping Cough Vaccines Proven Safe For Adults
November 29, 2012

Whooping Cough Vaccines Proven Safe For Adults

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

According to research published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, immunizing adults with tetanus-diphtheria-acellular-pertussis (Tdap) vaccine to prevent whooping cough is as safe as immunizing them with the tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccine.

The researchers of the study looked at electronic health records of nearly 120,000 people ages 65 and older at seven U.S. health systems between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2010.

The team looked at medical conditions following Tdap vaccination and found that although there is a small increased risk of injection site reactions following the vaccination, risks are no more common than those following Td vaccination.

They found that patients who had received a tetanus- or diphtheria-containing vaccine within the prior five years did not have a higher rate of reaction from the Tdap vaccine.

"Published data on the safety of the Tdap vaccine in persons 65 years and older is limited as the vaccine was initially not licensed for this age group," study lead author Hung Fu Tseng, PhD, MPH from Kaiser Permanente Southern California's Department of Research & Evaluation, said in a statement. "However, as the number of elderly individuals receiving Tdap increases, evaluation of the safety of the vaccine in this population becomes essential."

Data from the study suggests that immunizing adults 65 years and older with Tdap should not have negative health impacts. Adults 65 and older should receive Tdap to reduce the risk of pertussis in the elderly and people they come in contact with.

"Recent outbreaks of whooping cough and infant deaths are a reminder of how serious these infections are and that pertussis immunization is important, particularly since one of the most common sources of pertussis in infants is their relatives, including their grandparents" Tseng said. "These findings should instill additional confidence for clinicians serving older adult populations in recommending the Tdap vaccine as a safe way to reduce the risk of pertussis infections."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the most effective way to prevent pertusis is through immunization. Five doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine (DTaP) are recommended for children starting at two months of age.

A Tdap vaccine is recommended for preteens, teens, and adults, and doctors say it could be especially important for expectant mothers and those caring for infants.

Pertussis is a contagious bacterial disease that causes uncontrollable coughing and can be deadly in infants. There were just over 1,000 reported cases of pertussis in 1976 in the U.S. By 2010, the number climbed to nearly 28,000 cases.

The latest study is part of the Vaccine Safety Datalink project, which was established in 1990 to monitor immunization safety and address the gaps in scientific knowledge about rare and serious events.