The CDC recommends pediatric DTaP vaccinations for children at ages 2 mo., 4 mo., 6 mo., 18 mo., and 6 years. However, infants are not optimally protected against whooping cough until after their 6-month vaccination. The ultimate next generation pediatric pertussis vaccine would be administered immediately after birth and provide long term protection against B. pertussis colonization and whooping cough, while reducing or replacing the current childhood pertussis vaccination schedule.
The Tdap adult/adolescent vaccine is recommended by the CDC at 11 years of age, once during adulthood, and for woman in the third trimester of pregnancy to protect newborns. Besides maternal immunization, close adult and adolescent contacts are advised to receive Tdap vaccines to protect vulnerable babies – such contacts include fathers, older siblings, aunts/uncles, and grandparents, as well as hospital care workers. However, if aP vaccines do not prevent B. pertussis colonization and transmission, the effectiveness of this strategy is limited at best. Although aP vaccination likely reduces coughing transmission from overt whooping cough and protects for a limited duration against adult pertussis disease, counter-intuitively such adult acellular vaccines may provide a false sense of security with respect to infants in close contact with adults and may inadvertently put children at risk of acquiring a B. pertussis infection. That is, an adult family member who receives an aP vaccine can still become colonized with B. pertussis and thereby transmit B. pertussis to an infant. Clearly, a more effective adult booster is urgently needed.