Licensed pertussis vaccines in the United States. History and current state

Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2014;10(9):2684-90. doi: 10.4161/hv.29576. Epub 2014 Nov 6.


The United States switched from whole cell to acellular pertussis vaccines in the 1990s following global concerns with the safety of the whole cell vaccines. Despite high levels of acellular pertussis vaccine coverage, the United States and other countries are experiencing large pertussis outbreaks. The aim of this article is to describe the historical context which led to acellular pertussis vaccine development, focusing on vaccines currently licensed in the US, and to review evidence that waning protection following licensed acellular pertussis vaccines have been significant factors in the widespread reappearance of pertussis.

Keywords: acellular; history; pertussis; protection; vaccines; waning.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging / epidemiology
  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging / prevention & control
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Pertussis Vaccine / administration & dosage*
  • Pertussis Vaccine / history
  • Pertussis Vaccine / immunology*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vaccination / history
  • Vaccination / methods*
  • Vaccines, Acellular / administration & dosage
  • Vaccines, Acellular / history
  • Vaccines, Acellular / immunology
  • Whooping Cough / epidemiology*
  • Whooping Cough / prevention & control*


  • Pertussis Vaccine
  • Vaccines, Acellular