What is whole-cell vaccination against pertussis (whooping cough)?

Updated: May 02, 2019
  • Author: Joseph J Bocka, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Answer

This vaccine, used from the 1940s until the mid-1990s in the United States and from the 1940s until the 1980s in Europe, consisted of a whole cell with endotoxin given in 4 doses. About 80% of recipients acquired effective protection with this regimen. Two doses provided some immunity, whereas 1 dose provided little protection.

It was found that about 50% of patients who received the vaccine had a local reaction to it, 1 patient in 1750 had a seizure without fever, and 10.5 patients per million developed encephalitis; permanent brain damage was rare. Concern about CNS adverse effects is a major reason why many individuals chose not to be vaccinated.


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