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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
July 27, 2021

Resurgence of Pertussis Linked With Switch to Acellular Vaccine

JAMA. 2021;326(4):300. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.11153

The emergence of Bordetella pertussis strains that lack the common antigen pertactin is likely driven by the switch decades ago to newer, less effective vaccines, a study published in Emerging Infectious Diseases has suggested.

The US and many other countries switched from whole-cell pertussis vaccines to acellular vaccines in the mid-1990s. The newer acellular vaccines are effective against severe disease and were associated with fewer serious adverse events. But they have drawbacks. They don’t prevent nasal colonization with the bacterium and protection rapidly wanes. By the early 2000s, pertussis cases reemerged in countries that made the switch despite high vaccination rates.

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