Despite widespread immunization programs in most countries, pertussis disease continues to be a threat to public health. In particular, there has been a resurgence of pertussis disease in older children, adolescents and adults, creating a reservoir of infection, which poses a significant threat to infants who are either unimmunized or incompletely immunized. Global Pertussis Initiative participants from Argentina, Australia, Brazil and Japan considered the relative merits of several strategies to reduce the burden of pertussis disease and suggested strategies that might be implemented in these countries. Infants in these countries receive an initial course of 3 doses of vaccine in the first year of life followed by a fourth dose in the second year. Only children in Japan are not given a preschool booster (age 3–5 years). Of the strategies considered, the addition of a preschool booster is therefore a priority in Japan to overcome the problem of waning vaccine-induced immunity to pertussis in school children. Waning immunity also affects adolescents; Australia introduced an adolescent booster in 2003, and the addition of a booster in this age group was suggested for Argentina and Japan. Immunization of new mothers and other close contacts of young infants, such as child care and health care workers, might be appropriate in Australia in the future. Argentina also suggested a future possibility of immunizing health care and child care workers. Obstacles to new immunization strategies include poor access to standardized laboratory diagnostic techniques, inadequate resources to fund new immunization programs, low awareness of pertussis disease in adults and adolescents and inadequate surveillance techniques to assess the full extent of the problems caused by pertussis or the impact new vaccination strategies might have.
From the *Department of Paediatrics, Flinders Medical Centre, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia; the †Research Center for Biologicals, The Kitasato Institute, Saitama, Japan; ‡Fundación del Centro de Estudios Infectológicos (FUNCEI), Buenos Aires, Argentina; and the §Brazilian National Agency for Health Surveillance, Brasilia, Brazil (ET)
Address for correspondence: Dr Kevin Forsyth, Department of Paediatrics, Flinders Medical Centre, Bedford Park 5042, South Australia, Adelaide, Australia. Fax (08) 8204 394; E-mail Kevin.Forsyth@flinders.edu.au.