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New Pertussis Policy Announced

American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends vaccine for adolescents

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 28, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- A new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy recommends universal whooping cough (pertussis) vaccination of 11- and 12-year-olds, and catch-up vaccinations for older adolescents.

The policy also states that the tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap) will replace the tetanus and reduced diphtheria toxoids (Td) vaccine in the childhood immunization schedule. The Td vaccine is used for booster doses for adolescents and adults.

From 1976 to 2004, the number of pertussis cases in the United States increased from 1,060 to more than 25,000, the AAP said. More than a third of the 2004 cases occurred in adolescents aged 11 to 18. Reported pertussis-related deaths among infants in the United States increased from about 10 a year in the 1990s to about 20 a year so far this decade.

The AAP noted that most of the reported pertussis cases among teens and adults in the United States are the result of decreased protective immunity, which occurs within five to 10 years after the last childhood pertussis vaccination.

Adults and adolescents with pertussis can suffer severe and prolonged coughing, along with vomiting and complications, and can infect vulnerable people such as infants who are too young to have been fully immunized against whooping cough.

"In infants, pertussis can be dangerous, and very severe. Parents need to know how important it is to vaccinate their children on time to prevent a serious and potentially life-threatening disease," AAP President Dr. Eileen Ouellette said in a prepared statement.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about pertussis.

SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics, news release, December 2005
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