A whooping cough booster vaccine offers protection for both adults and adolescents against a disease that is on the rise in the USA, according to new clinical trial data published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The Phase III trial included a total of 4,480 participants aged from 11 to 64 and found that the combination vaccine “elicited robust immune responses in adolescents and adults to pertussis, tetanus, and diphtheria.”

In 2003, 11,647 cases of pertussis, many in adolescents and adults, were reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with preliminary data suggesting this figure rose to 18,957 cases in 2004. The study authors note that a booster vaccine could be significant to public health, as it could prevent whooping cough spreading to infants who are too young to have completed the primary series of immunisations, and for whom whooping cough could be life threatening.

Sanofi-aventis, which sponsored the study, is awaiting final clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration for its Adacel vaccine after winning the backing of an advisory panel earlier this year [[16/03/05a]].

GlaxoSmithKline’s booster combination vaccine, Boostrix, won the FDA green light for use as a single booster dose to immunise adolescents 10-18 years of age against whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria, last month [[04/05/05e]].