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Pediatrics. 2015 Jun;135(6):e1475-82. doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-3925. Epub 2015 May 11.

Strategies to decrease pertussis transmission to infants.

Author information

  • 1Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Flinders Medical Centre, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia;
  • 2Department of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
  • 3Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois; and.
  • 4Labor;Medizin Krefeld MVZ, Krefeld, Germany.


The Global Pertussis Initiative (GPI) is an expert scientific forum addressing the worldwide burden of pertussis, which remains a serious health issue, especially in infants. This age cohort is at risk for developing pertussis by transmission from those in close proximity. Risk is increased in infants aged 0 to 6 weeks, as they are too young to be vaccinated. Older infants are at risk when their vaccination schedules are incomplete. Infants also bear the greatest disease burden owing to their high risk for pertussis-related complications and death; therefore, protecting them is a high priority. Two vaccine strategies have been proposed to protect infants. The first involves vaccinating pregnant women, which directly protects through the passive transfer of pertussis antibodies. The second strategy, cocooning, involves vaccinating parents, caregivers, and other close contacts, which indirectly protects infants from transmission by preventing disease in those in close proximity. The goal of this review was to present and discuss evidence on these 2 strategies. Based on available data, the GPI recommends vaccination during pregnancy as the primary strategy, given its efficacy, safety, and logistic advantages over a cocoon approach. If vaccination during pregnancy is not feasible, then all individuals having close contact with infants <6 months old should be immunized consistent with local health authority guidelines. These efforts are anticipated to minimize pertussis transmission to vulnerable infants, although real-world effectiveness data are limited. Countries should educate lay and medical communities on pertussis and introduce robust surveillance practices while implementing these protective strategies.

Copyright © 2015 by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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