Health care workers who receive the pertussis vaccine do not need additional boosters, a federal advisory panel decided.
Outbreaks of pertussis in some states have raised concerns about the potential for hospital-based transmission. Only 31% of health care workers have been vaccinated with Tdap, according to data from the National Health Interview Survey, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended the one-time vaccine since 2006.
Studies show that Tdap’s effectiveness wanes significantly within three years after vaccination. However, vaccinated individuals are less likely to develop symptoms and transmit the disease, epidemiologist Jennifer Liang, DVM, MPVM, told the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
CDC continues to recommend post-exposure prophylaxis for health care workers who are exposed to pertussis, particularly those who care for high-risk patients, such as pregnant women and newborns. Health care workers who do not care for high-risk patients may be monitored for symptoms for 21 days, Liang said.
Rather than backing a booster vaccine to increase immunoprotection, CDC called for better coverage of health care workers with the single dose of Tdap.
“There is no evidence that additional doses would be preventive,” Liang said.
Because Tdap coverage is low among health care workers, and the duration of protection afforded is unknown, post-exposure antibiotic prophylaxis is indicated for vaccinated workers in contact with patients at risk for severe pertussis infections (e.g. hospitalized neonates).
Recommended post-exposure drugs for exposed workers include azithromycin, clarithroymycin, or erythromycin.