Pertussis and Rotavirus Vaccines - Controversies and Solutions

Indian J Pediatr. 2018 Jan;85(1):53-59. doi: 10.1007/s12098-017-2393-2. Epub 2017 Jun 16.


Pertussis and rotavirus vaccines have been the subject of several controversies over the years. In this paper the authors discuss facts and myths behind these controversies and also suggest solutions to overcome some limitations of these vaccines. The whole-cell pertussis vaccine (wPV) came into disrepute due to the associated adverse reactions, resulting in its replacement by acellular pertussis vaccine (aPV) in industrialized nations in 1990s. Although wPV is known to have more side effects; but they are usually minor. Whole-cell pertussis containing vaccine is being used safely in the National Immunization programme in India from many years. Another controversy erupted during 2009-2010, when there were reports of resurgence of pertussis cases among adolescents and adults, from developed nations. Present literature review raises doubts about long term protection offered by aPV, when compared with wPV. In spite of prevailing controversy, acellular pertussis containing vaccines should be acceptable, if timely delivery of primary and booster doses is ensured; including vaccination of adolescents and pregnant women. Initial rotavirus vaccine was withdrawn from the market because of increased risk of intussusception. Although three new generation rotavirus vaccines are currently available for use in India, but doubts about their efficacy, long term protection and safety still exists. Present literature review found them to be safe and moderately efficacious because of reasonable good cross protection. Even a moderately efficacious vaccine like rotavirus vaccine could significantly improve the outcome if disease burden is high. Therefore, it is being included in National Immunization Programme of India.

Keywords: Gastroenteritis; Health policy; Immunization; Whooping cough.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Humans
  • India
  • Pertussis Vaccine / adverse effects
  • Pertussis Vaccine / therapeutic use*
  • Rotavirus Infections / prevention & control
  • Rotavirus Vaccines / adverse effects
  • Rotavirus Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Whooping Cough / prevention & control


  • Pertussis Vaccine
  • Rotavirus Vaccines