Vaccination against Pertussis in the era of acellular and whole-cell vaccines

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Enrique Chacon-Cruz Erika Zoe Lopatynsky-Reyes Kapil Maithal Sabrina Bakeera-Kitaka Collins Ankunda Javier Casellas Malook Vir Singh Frederic Nikiema Jessabelle E. Basa Mahmud Sheku Oscar E. Zazueta


Pertussis in a highly infectious respiratory disease, and even though vaccination has been globally implemented since the 1940s, we are far from elimination, and even still suffering from many outbreaks throughout the world.

This comprehensive review is tailored primarily for clinicians and healthcare practitioners, aiming to deepen their insights into the evolving dynamics of Pertussis over time since the first whole-cell Pertussis vaccine was started. It delves into the high reactogenicity and alleged severe neurologic effects, which were later conclusively disproven. The ensuing repercussions of these early challenges manifested in multiple outbreaks, compelling the scientific community to respond proactively. This led to the development and subsequent implementation of acellular Pertussis vaccines, marked by an improved safety profile.

Moreover, the exclusive adoption of acellular Pertussis vaccines for widespread immunization in certain countries resulted in a notable surge in Pertussis cases. Subsequent investigations, conducted through both animal models and epidemiological studies, elucidated that acellular Pertussis vaccines exhibited a considerably diminished mucosal immunity. Consequently, nasopharyngeal carriage showed minimal reduction, leading to a substantial decline in indirect or herd immunity when compared to whole-cell Pertussis vaccines. Conversely, numerous developing countries presently incorporate whole-cell Pertussis vaccines either independently or in conjunction with acellular formulations. In light of this, precise recommendations must be systematically addressed to cultivate a more unified and pragmatic landscape for immunization strategies. These recommendations should be rooted in the latest scientific data and aligned with the guidelines articulated by both the World Health Organization and the Global Pertussis Initiative.

This concerted approach aims to optimize immunization practices on a global scale, fostering a harmonized and evidence-based framework for combating Pertussis. Relevant and updated issues concerning maternal, adolescent and adult vaccination are addressed, as well as the ongoing pipeline of new intramuscular and mucosal vaccines, and finally emphasizing the continuous need for improved surveillance and pharmacovigilance systems.

Keywords: Vaccination against Pertussis, acellular and whole-cell vaccines, Vaccination, whole-cell vaccines

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How to Cite
CHACON-CRUZ, Enrique et al. Vaccination against Pertussis in the era of acellular and whole-cell vaccines. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 12, n. 3, mar. 2024. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 13 apr. 2024. doi:
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