I think it’s time to bring back wholecell pertussis vaccines

My 7 year old nephew is going for his booster shots this week, and I’ve been thinking about something related to that.
One of the boosters is the triple jab against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. There are two types used: TDaP and DTaP. In both, the pertussis component is acellular. The main difference between the two is that TDaP has reduced amounts of both the diphtheria and pertussis components.
The original triple vaccine for the three illnesses was the DTP (aka DPT and DTwP), licensed in 1949. The main difference between this vaccine and the acellular vaccines mentioned above is that DTP uses killed pertussis cells, while the acellular ones just use pertussis antigens.
DTP is potent and gives longer lasting immunity than the acellular vaccines, but was replaced by them due to a suspected higher risk of side effects.
According to this schedule, the vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis currently used in South Africa are: DTaP-IPV//Hib/HBV, a hexavalent vaccine that also protects against polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b and hepatitis B; DTaP-IPV//Hib, a pentavalent one that doesn’t contain a hep B component; Tdap-IPV, a quadrivalent one that excludes the Haemophilus influenzae type b component; and Td, which is a tetanus and reduced diphtheria vaccine only.
My belief is that it may be time to reconsider the use of whole-cell pertussis in vaccines. The EPI schedule uses four pentavalent shots and two Td shots while the Private Practice Option 1 uses the four pentavalent and two quadrivalent. There are whole cell alternatives to all the acellular vaccines. Reintroducing whole-cell vaccine may reduce the number of shots given. Some countries are already going this route.


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I am a Software Test Analyst. Shortly before I turned 21 I was officially diagnosed, although I had long suspected I was autistic. Welcome to my blog
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