Whooping cough is common in school-age children including those who are fully immunisedOne fifth of all children who have a cough that has lasted between 2 and 8 weeks have evidence of recent whooping cough. This is the finding of a study, just published in the British Medical Journal, which examined children visiting their GP in the Thames Valley region of the UK. This is despite the high uptake rates of the vaccine in the UK: 90% in infancy and 80% at 3-4 years of age. Most children who had contracted whooping cough had been fully immunised with three shots in infancy and a booster at 3-4 years of age. There was clear evidence that the protection the vaccine gives (which is probably not great anyway) falls away after a few years, as the risk of contracting whooping cough was over four times greater in children who had received their booster vaccine more than seven years previously.
This is not the first study to demonstrate that whooping cough is becoming more widespread in the community. Reassuringly, hospital admissions for whooping cough are not rising, suggesting that most cases are not serious, often no worse than a prolonged cough.