Pertussis is a highly contagious disease of the respiratory tract which is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis and is most severe in those <1 year of age. A vaccine against pertussis, introduced in the 1950's, led to a significant decrease in incidence of the disease, but recent increases in outbreaks have been attributed to insufficient vaccine uptake, suboptimal protection conferred by vaccines, and waning immunity after immunization. Areas covered: In this review we discuss the major challenges for controlling pertussis, and what we believe the best strategies are to overcome these challenges, focusing on immunization against pertussis in Europe, but with recommendations that are relevant worldwide. Expert commentary: To provide maximum vaccine coverage we propose a schedule that incorporates immunization of infants, preschoolers, adolescents, adults, and pregnant women. Uptake of vaccines may also vary between populations due to a variety of causes, including hesitancy to vaccinate, so any national strategy to control pertussis should also include sustaining public and healthcare provider confidence in vaccination. Addressing and improving regional variations in surveillance will also help better monitor annual incidence and outbreaks. Looking towards the future, the development of new pertussis vaccines with longer duration of protection would be advantageous.
Keywords: Acellular pertussis vaccine; Bordetella pertussis; vaccine hesitancy; vaccine schedule; whole-cell pertussis vaccine.