- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 5, 2005

CHICAGO (AP) — Although a whooping-cough booster shot for adults could be on the market soon, a new study suggests that giving the shots to grown-ups wouldn’t be as cost-effective as revaccinating only younger patients.

U.S. infants already routinely are vaccinated against whooping cough, also called pertussis, but the effectiveness wears off. Assuring that one age group, 11-year-olds, receive one of two new boosters would prevent tens of thousands of cases at an acceptable cost, the analysis found.

The costs of also routinely giving booster vaccinations to adults probably would outweigh the benefits because whooping cough is relatively uncommon in adults, the researchers said.

However, whooping cough is thought to be underdiagnosed in adults because many doctors still think the disease occurs only in infants and young children, said study co-author Dr. Trudy Murphy of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Higher prevalence rates in adulthood likely would make vaccinating adults beneficial, she said.

The study is being published today in the June edition of Pediatrics.

Infants are most severely affected by the bacterial disease, which causes violent coughing spells. In adolescents and adults, coughing is sometimes mistaken for bronchitis and can last for months. Treatment includes antibiotics.

The nationwide incidence of pertussis has risen steadily in the past two decades, largely because immunity wears off. U.S. cases jumped from more than 11,000 in 2003 to an estimated 18,957 last year, and higher numbers are expected this year, Dr. Murphy said.

“We’re still seeing huge pockets of disease,” said the lead author, Dr. Grace Lee of Harvard Medical School.

Last month, the government approved GlaxoSmithKline’s new whooping-cough booster vaccine Boostrix for preteens and teenagers, and approval is expected this month for Sanofi Pasteur’s rival Adacel, designed for use in people ages 11 to 64.

The cost-effectiveness analysis, funded by the CDC, follows a separate study last week that said Adacel is safe and effective at preventing whooping-cough cases in adults and adolescents.

The government’s vaccine advisory committee is expected to consider a proposal to add Boostrix to the list of recommended immunizations at a June 29 to 30 meeting.

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