Impact of anti-vaccine movements on pertussis control: the untold story

Lancet. 1998 Jan 31;351(9099):356-61. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(97)04334-1.


To assess the impact of anti-vaccine movements that targeted pertussis whole-cell vaccines, we compared pertussis incidence in countries where high coverage with diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccines (DTP) was maintained (Hungary, the former East Germany, Poland, and the USA) with countries where immunisation was disrupted by anti-vaccine movements (Sweden, Japan, UK, The Russian Federation, Ireland, Italy, the former West Germany, and Australia). Pertussis incidence was 10 to 100 times lower in countries where high vaccine coverage was maintained than in countries where immunisation programs were compromised by anti-vaccine movements. Comparisons of neighbouring countries with high and low vaccine coverage further underscore the efficacy of these vaccines. Given the safety and cost-effectiveness of whole-cell pertussis vaccines, our study shows that, far from being obsolete, these vaccines continue to have an important role in global immunisation.

MeSH terms

  • Global Health
  • Health Policy / trends*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Pertussis Vaccine / adverse effects*
  • Vaccination / trends*
  • Whooping Cough / epidemiology*
  • Whooping Cough / prevention & control*


  • Pertussis Vaccine