December 19, 2012
Tdap Vaccine Safe for Use in Older Adults, Study Says

Pasadena, CA—With recent outbreaks of pertussis in the United States and so many infants having regular contact with grandparents, a Kaiser Permanente report offers important new safety information on the use of tetanus-diphtheria-acellular-pertussis (Tdap) vaccine in older adults.

According to study authors, their research provides empirical data “suggesting that immunizing adults aged ≥65 years with Tdap to reduce the risk of pertussis in the elderly and their contacts should not have untoward safety consequences.”

For the study, published recently in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, investigators reviewed electronic health records of nearly 120,000 patients older than 65 at seven U.S. health systems from 2006 through 2010.

While researchers found a small increase of injection site reactions 1-6 days following Tdap vaccination, those were no more common than with the tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccine. In addition, patients who had received the Td vaccine in the previous five years had no greater rate of reaction from Tdap vaccine than those who had not.

“Published data on the safety of the Tdap vaccine in persons 65 years and older is limited as the vaccine was initially not licensed for this age group,” said study lead author Hung Fu Tseng, PhD, MPH, from Kaiser Permanente Southern California’s Department of Research & Evaluation. “However, as the number of elderly individuals receiving Tdap increases, evaluation of the safety of the vaccine in this population becomes essential.”

Earlier this year, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend the use of Tdap in all adults aged 65 years and older. Routine use of Tdap vaccines in adolescents aged 11–18 years in place of TD vaccines has been recommended since 2005.

“Recent outbreaks of whooping cough and infant deaths are a reminder of how serious these infections are and that pertussis immunization is important, particularly since one of the most common sources of pertussis in infants is their relatives, including their grandparents,” Tseng said. “These findings should instill additional confidence for clinicians serving older adult populations in recommending the Tdap vaccine as a safe way to reduce the risk of pertussis infections.”

The number of pertussis cases in the United States rose from just more than 1,000 in 1976 to more than 28,000 cases in 2010. That was the largest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1959, when 40,000 cases were reported.

U.S. Pharmacist Social Connect