OBJECTIVE:

Data on the effectiveness of the diphtheria–tetanus–acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine in the first 4 years of life are sparse. We evaluated the vaccine effectiveness (VE) of 1 and 2 doses of DTaP before 6 months of age and of 3 doses from 6 months of age in Australia, where, since 2003, a fourth dose is not given until 4 years.

METHODS:

We matched reported pertussis cases aged 2 to 47 months between January 2005 and December 2009 to controls from a population-based immunization register by date of birth and region of residence. VE by number of doses and age group was calculated as (1 – odds ratio) × 100%.

RESULTS:

VE against hospitalization increased from 55.3% (95% confidence interval [CI], 42.7%–65.1%) for 1 dose before 4 months of age to 83.0% (95% CI, 70.2%–90.3%) for 2 doses before 6 months. The VE of 3 doses of DTaP against all reported pertussis was 83.5% (95% CI, 79.1%–87.8%) between 6 and 11 months, declining to 70.7% (95% CI, 64.5%–75.8%) between 2 and 3 years of age and 59.2% (95% CI, 51.0%–66.0%) between 3 and 4 years of age.

CONCLUSIONS:

DTaP provided good protection against pertussis in the first year of life from the first dose. Without a booster dose, the effectiveness of 3 doses waned more rapidly from 2 to 4 years of age than previously documented for children >6 years of age who had received 5 doses.

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