Importance: Current acellular pertussis vaccines may not protect against transmission of Bordetella pertussis.
Objective: To assess whether a priming dose of whole-cell pertussis (wP) vaccine is cost-effective at reducing pertussis infection in infants.
Design, setting, and participants: Mathematical model of pertussis transmission fit to US incidence data in a simulation of the US population. In this simulation study conducted from June 2014 to May 2015, the population was divided into 9 age groups corresponding to the current pertussis vaccination schedule and fit to 2012 pertussis incidence.
Interventions: Inclusion of a priming dose of wP vaccine into the current acellular pertussis vaccination schedule.
Main outcomes and measures: Reductions in symptomatic pertussis incidence by age group, increases in wP vaccine-related adverse effects, and quality-adjusted life-years owing to changing vaccine schedule.
Results: Switching to a wP-priming vaccination strategy could reduce whooping cough incidence by up to 95% (95% CI, 91-98), including 96% (95% CI, 92-98) fewer infections in neonates. Although there may be an increase in the number of vaccine adverse effects, we nonetheless estimate a 95% reduction in quality-adjusted life-years lost with a switch to the combined strategy and a cost reduction of 94% (95% CI, 91-97), saving more than $142 million annually.
Conclusions and relevance: Our results suggest that an alternative vaccination schedule including 1 dose of wP vaccine may be highly cost-effective and ethically preferred until next-generation pertussis vaccines become available.