Is adolescent pertussis vaccination preferable to natural booster infections?

Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2011 Nov;4(6):705-11. doi: 10.1586/ecp.11.55.


Pertussis is still poorly controlled in both adolescents and adults. As a result, an adolescent pertussis booster vaccine dose has already been implemented or decided on in many countries. The reasons for this have been twofold: a worrying increase of infections in the target group of adolescents and a wish to prevent serious pertussis disease among young yet unvaccinated, and partly vaccinated, infants. Currently, it is still too early to evaluate the effect of the late booster on the circulation of Bordetella pertussis owing to the lack of relevant follow-up data. A universal adolescent booster vaccination will reduce the incidence of pertussis in the target group but the duration of immunity is uncertain. It is an open question as to what extent boosters should be offered to older age groups or if natural infections would be preferable. On the one hand, circulating B. pertussis may be hazardous to the youngest unvaccinated infants. On the other hand, subclinical natural boosters might be beneficial to population immunity. As the duration of immunity is shorter after vaccination than after natural infections, an unwanted consequence of adolescent boosters might shift the infection peak to older child-bearing adults. It is therefore recommended that recurrent serosurveys are used to follow the influence of vaccination on the antigenic pressure, as well as the duration of protective immunity. For this purpose, standardization of symptoms and laboratory criteria used for notification, as well as the methodology for seroepidemiology, must be established. Adverse reactions after adolescent vaccination and outbreaks owing to new B. pertussis variants must also be carefully monitored. In this article, we have used Swedish surveillance data and the results from Swedish seroepidemiology to illustrate these problem areas.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Bordetella pertussis / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunization Schedule*
  • Immunization, Secondary / methods*
  • Pertussis Vaccine / administration & dosage*
  • Pertussis Vaccine / immunology
  • Vaccination / methods*


  • Pertussis Vaccine