A controlled trial of a two-component acellular, a five-component acellular, and a whole-cell pertussis vaccine

N Engl J Med. 1996 Feb 8;334(6):349-55. doi: 10.1056/NEJM199602083340602.


Background: Because of concern about safety and efficacy, no pertussis vaccine has been included in the vaccination program in Sweden since 1979. To provide data that might permit the reintroduction of a pertussis vaccine, we conducted a placebo-controlled trial of two acellular and one whole-cell pertussis vaccines.

Methods: After informed consent was obtained, 9829 children born in 1992 were randomly assigned to receive one of four vaccines: a two-component acellular diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) vaccine (2566 children), a five-component acellular DTP vaccine (2587 children), a whole-cell DTP vaccine licensed in the United States (2102 children), or (as a control) a vaccine containing diphtheria and tetanus toxoids (DT) alone (2574 children). The vaccines were given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age, and the children were then followed for signs of pertussis for an additional 2 years (to a mean age of 21/2 years).

Results: The whole-cell vaccine was associated with significantly higher rates of protracted crying, cyanosis, fever, and local reactions than the other three vaccines. The rates of adverse events were similar for the acellular vaccines and the control DT vaccine. After three doses, the efficacy of the vaccines with respect to pertussis linked to a laboratory-confirmed case of pertussis or contact with an infected household member with paroxysmal cough for > or = 21 days was 58.9 percent for the two-component vaccine (95 percent confidence interval, 50.9 to 65.9 percent), 85.2 percent for the five-component vaccine (95 percent confidence interval, 80.6 to 88.8 percent), and 48.3 percent for the whole-cell vaccine (95 percent confidence interval, 37.0 to 57.6 percent).

Conclusions: The five-component acellular pertussis vaccine we evaluated can be recommended for general use, since it has a favorable safety profile and confers sustained protection against pertussis. The two-component acellular vaccine and the whole-cell vaccine were less efficacious.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology
  • Antigens, Bacterial / therapeutic use
  • Bordetella pertussis / immunology
  • Diphtheria Toxoid / therapeutic use
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus Vaccine
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis Vaccine / therapeutic use
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pertussis Vaccine / adverse effects
  • Pertussis Vaccine / immunology
  • Pertussis Vaccine / therapeutic use*
  • Tetanus Toxoid / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vaccines, Combined / therapeutic use
  • Vaccines, Inactivated / therapeutic use
  • Virulence Factors, Bordetella / immunology
  • Virulence Factors, Bordetella / therapeutic use
  • Whooping Cough / prevention & control*


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Diphtheria Toxoid
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus Vaccine
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis Vaccine
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Pertussis Vaccine
  • Tetanus Toxoid
  • Vaccines, Combined
  • Vaccines, Inactivated
  • Virulence Factors, Bordetella