Effectiveness of maternal pertussis vaccination in preventing infection and disease in infants: The NSW Public Health Network case-control study

Vaccine. 2018 Mar 27;36(14):1887-1892. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2018.02.047. Epub 2018 Mar 1.


Background: Infants are at the highest risk of severe complications - including death - as a result of pertussis infection. Controlling pertussis in this group has been challenging, particularly in those too young to be vaccinated. Following revised national recommendations in March 2015, the state of New South Wales, Australia, introduced a funded maternal vaccination campaign at 28 - 32 weeks of gestation using a 3-component tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis vaccine (dTpa; Boostrix, GSK). This study aimed to assess the effectiveness of maternal vaccination and add to the growing body of evidence for this strategy.

Methods: A 1:1 matched case-control study was conducted between 16 August 2015 and 17 August 2016. Cases were laboratory or doctor notified, laboratory confirmed (nucleic acid testing or culture) and aged <6 months at onset. Each control infant was randomly selected from public hospital births in the same geographical area in the period up to 3 days before and after the case's birthdate. Odds ratios (OR) were calculated using conditional logistic regression. Vaccine effectiveness (VE) was calculated as 1 - OR.

Findings: In total, 117 cases and 117 controls were recruited. The overall VE estimate was non-significantly protective for infants <6 months old (VE 39%, 95% CI -12 to 66%). Higher VE was observed for infants <3 months old (VE 69%, 95% CI 13-89%) and against hospitalisation (VE 94%, 95% CI 59-99%).

Interpretation: Maternal pertussis vaccination with a 3-component acellular vaccine was found to be highly effective at preventing severe disease in infants, but was less effective at preventing disease which did not require hospitalisation. The overall VE reported in this study was lower than in prior studies and suggests that maternal vaccination, while an effective strategy at preventing severe pertussis, is less effective at protecting against infection or mild disease.

Keywords: Australia; Maternal vaccination; Pertussis; Vaccination; dTpa.

MeSH terms

  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Bordetella pertussis / immunology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Maternally-Acquired*
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pertussis Vaccine / immunology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Public Health Surveillance
  • Vaccination
  • Whooping Cough / prevention & control*


  • Pertussis Vaccine