Much recent news coverage has focused on viral outbreaks like Ebola and measles, while coverage of another outbreak has been somewhat muted. Since the 1980’s, there has been an increase in the number of reported pertussis (whooping cough) cases in the United States, culminating in more than 48,000 cases in 2012, the most since 1955.
While the reasons for this increase are varied, a new study done in Washington state shows pertussis immunity wanes within five years of receiving the Tdap vaccination, which protects against pertussis, tetanus and diphtheria.
“The take-home message is that the waning is there,” said Dr. Art Reingold with the University of California in an interview with National Public Radio. “You’re protected initially but it wanes over time.”
The majority of people receive their last pertussis vaccination when they are teens, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that a booster is needed every five to 10 years to uphold a high level of immunity.