Long-term Effectiveness of Whooping Cough Vaccines
The long-term effectiveness of whooping cough vaccines is being studied. Experts do know that getting whooping cough or a whooping cough vaccine (as a child or an adult) does not protect you for a lifetime.
CDC is studying the long-term effectiveness of adolescent and adult whooping cough vaccines
In general, Tdap vaccination protects 7 out of 10 people who receive it, but protection fades over time.
The Food and Drug Administration licensed both whooping cough vaccines for adolescents and adults (called Tdap vaccine; brand names are Boostrix® and Adacel®) in 2005, so we do not yet have results on long-term vaccine protection (see Safety and Side Effects section for how that has been monitored). A lot of people need to get a vaccine before its effectiveness can be measured on a large scale, so it takes several years.
CDC's current estimate is that Tdap vaccination protects against whooping cough in about 7 out of 10 people who receive it. We are still working to understand how that protection decreases over time as antibody levels drop.
Studies show childhood whooping cough vaccines are effective
In general, DTaP vaccination is effective for up to 8 or 9 out of 10 children who receive it, but protection fades over time.
Since the childhood whooping cough vaccine (called DTaP) has been used since the 1990s, we have study results on long-term protection. In general, DTaP vaccines are effective for 8 or 9 out of 10 children who receive them. Among children who get all 5 doses of DTaP vaccine on schedule, effectiveness is very high within the year following the 5th dose — nearly all children (98 out of 100) are fully protected. There is a modest decrease in effectiveness in each following year. About 7 out of 10 of children are fully protected 5 years after getting their last dose of DTaP vaccine and the other 3 are protected against serious disease.
Whooping cough vaccination protects against severe illness in you and your baby
If you get the vaccine and still get whooping cough, you will have fewer coughing fits, shorter illness, and be less likely to suffer from disease complications. By getting the vaccine, you will also transfer antibodies (proteins produced by the body to fight off diseases) to your baby. Even if your baby gets whooping cough, these antibodies can protect your baby against the severe outcomes that come along with the disease. However, for teenagers and adults vaccinated during pregnancy, CDC does not yet have an exact estimate as to how long that short-term protection lasts in babies. That is why it is critical that your baby starts getting the whooping cough vaccine for children on time at 2 months of age. Studies are ongoing to learn how long antibodies passed from mom to baby are protective against whooping cough.
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