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Universal Pertussis Vaccine Urged for Adolescents

New American Academy of Pediatrics policy recommends vaccination at age 11-12 years

THURSDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a new policy Wednesday recommending universal vaccination for pertussis at 11 to 12 years of age, and catch-up vaccinations of older adolescents.

Despite universal immunization of children with multiple doses of pediatric diphtheria/tetanus/acellular pertussis vaccine (DTap), pertussis, commonly called whooping cough, remains endemic in the United States, and cases are continually rising, the AAP says.

Reported pertussis cases have increased from 1,060 in 1976 to more than 25,000 in 2004, and more than a third of cases in 2004 were in adolescents.

The AAP is recommending that adolescents aged 11 to 18 get a single dose of tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine, preferably at 11 to 12 years of age, instead of tetanus and reduced diphtheria toxoids (Td) vaccine as a booster. Adolescents 11 to 18 who received Td but not Tdap should get a single dose of Tdap, with an interval of at least five years between the vaccinations, if possible. Two new vaccine products became available in 2005, one a Tdap vaccine for patients aged 10 to 18 and the other for patients 11 to 64.

"The rationale for this strategy is to provide direct protection of immunized adolescents," according to the AAP policy statement. "With implementation of vaccine recommendations, indirect benefit also is likely to extend to unimmunized peers and other age groups."

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