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3a.7 How effective is the whole cell pertussis vaccine?




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This article is from the Childhood Vaccinations FAQ, by Lynn Gazis-Sax lynng@alsirat.com with numerous contributions by others.

3a.7 How effective is the whole cell pertussis vaccine?

It's one of the less effective childhood vaccinations. The PDR
estimates its effectiveness at 70-80%. It's effectiveness rating
depends on the severity of the cases of pertussis being observed. One
study of 1797 households found the vaccine to be 64% effective against
a mild cough, 81% effective against a paroxysmal cough, and 95%
effective against severe clinical illness. "Requiring laboratory
confirmation improved efficacy to 95 to 98% for culture-positive
children and to 77% to 95% for culture- or serology-confirmed cases,
depending on disease severity. Vaccine efficacy for typical paroxysmal
cough increased from 44% for one diptheria, tetanus, and pertussis
vaccine to 80% for four or more doses." (Onorato, Wassilak, and Meade)
The variation in estimates of efficacy may be because the more severe
cases were more likely to actually be pertussis, or it may be that the
vaccine protects better against severe pertussis than against a mild
form of the disease. Note: these effectiveness ratings are for the
older, whole cell pertussis vaccine. For information on the
effectiveness of the newer, acellular vaccines, which is generally
comparable to that of the older whole cell vaccines, see below.

 

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