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Keywords:

  • pertussis;
  • vaccine;
  • nasal immunization;
  • neonatal protection

Abstract

Pertussis or whooping cough is a life-threatening childhood disease, particularly severe during the first months of life, although adolescent and adult pertussis is increasingly more noted. General vaccination has tremendously reduced its incidence but has failed to bring it completely under control. In fact, it remains one of the most poorly controlled vaccine-preventable diseases in the world. New vaccination strategies are thus being explored. These include vaccination of pregnant mothers to transmit protective antibodies to the offspring, a cocooning strategy to prevent the transmission of the disease from family members to the newborn and neonatal vaccination. All have their inherent limitations, and improved vaccines are urgently needed. Two types of pertussis vaccines are currently available, whole-cell, first-generation and second-generation, acellular vaccines, with an improved safety profile. Attempts have been made to discover additional protective antigens to the 1–5 currently included in the acellular vaccines or to include new adjuvants. Recently, a live attenuated nasal Bordetella pertussis vaccine has been developed and undergone first-in-man clinical trials. However, as promising as it may be, in order to protect infants against severe disease, a single approach may not be sufficient, and multiple strategies applied in a concerted fashion may ultimately be required.