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This review summarises the epidemiology and control of pertussis in England and Wales since the introduction of routine immunisation and considers the implications for future control. Routine infant immunisation with a whole-cell pertussis (wP) vaccine was introduced in 1957 and had a marked impact on the overall disease burden. Following a fall in vaccine coverage during the 1970s and 80s linked to a safety scare with wP vaccine, there was an extended period of high coverage and pertussis incidence fell dramatically. Incidence continued to decrease with the introduction of an acellular pertussis vaccine in the pre-school booster in November 2001 and in the primary United Kingdom (UK) schedule in September 2004 but has increased since July 2011. In response to a high rate of pertussis in infants, a temporary vaccination programme for pregnant women was introduced in October 2012. The key aim of the programme is to protect vulnerable infants from birth in the first months of life, before they can be fully protected by routine infant immunisation. A review of the UK adolescent immunisation programme is currently ongoing and the inclusion of a pertussis booster is being considered.


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