New guidelines announced for pertussis and polio vaccines

The largest professional group of pediatricians in the United States recently announced new guidelines for the administration of the pertussis booster and polio vaccines.

The American Academy of Pediatrics released the updates in two policy statements from its infectious diseases committee. The revisions are intended, in part, to harmonize the AAP’s recommendations with those from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, according to

Adults who have regular and close contact with children under the age of one are recommended by the changes to receive a Tdap booster to protect against pertussis, also known as whooping cough. Tdap is also effective against tetanus and diphtheria, according to

The new recommendations also call for adults to receive the Tdap regardless of when they last had a shot for tetanus or diphtheria. There was previously some concern over reactions between the Tdap and the single vaccines if they were given less than two to five years apart.

The AAP said that because some infants develop pertussis ahead of when they can receive the Tdap, inoculating adults will offer a degree of protection.

In a separate policy statement, the AAP announced that it is essential that American children be immunized against polio. The crippling disease was eliminated in the United States in 1979, but persists in some parts of Africa and Asia. As a result, there is a risk it might reappear.

The academy now says that the inactivated polio vaccine schedule can be sped up under certain circumstances, such as a need to travel to an area where the disease is endemic. The new guidelines allow for the vaccine to be administered at as early as six weeks of age.