Papers And Originals

Efficacy of whooping-cough vaccines used in the United Kingdom before 1968: A preliminary report by the public health laboratory service whooping-cough committee and working party

Br Med J 1969; 4 doi: (Published 08 November 1969) Cite this as: Br Med J 1969;4:329


In a large survey of the efficacy of pertussis vaccines made in 33 areas in the United Kingdom during the period 1 November 1966 to 31 October 1967 a total of 3,564 households were investigated. Nine hundred and seventy-seven strains of Bordetella pertussis and 6 strains of Bord. parapertussis were isolated from persons in 792 households.

After contact in the home 56% of fully vaccinated children under 5 years of age developed a paroxysmal cough, and in more than two-thirds of these patients the diagnosis was confirmed bacteriologically. This suggests that pertussis vaccination was not very effective. A comparison with the attack rate in unvaccinated children also indicates a poor protection from vaccination.

None of the following factors appeared to be responsible for the poor protection afforded by vaccination: vaccination in early infancy, a long interval since vaccination, and the absence of booster doses.

Almost all the children in the survey had been given vaccines from a single manufacturer, and therefore a comparison of the efficacy of vaccines prepared by different manufacturers was inconclusive. All the vaccinated children in the survey had been vaccinated before or during 1967. The efficacy of current preparations will require to be assessed by continuing surveillance.


  • * Public Health Laboratory Service Whooping-cough Committee and Working Party: Dr. J. D. Abbott, P.H.L. Manchester (secretary); Dr. A. H. Antonis, P.H.L. Colindale; Dr. H. R. Cayton, P.H.L. Bristol; Professor R. Cruickshank, University of West Indies; Professor J. P. Duguid, University of Dundee; Dr. W. N. Dunnet, D.O.H.A.S.S.; Dr. T. F. Elias-Jones, the City Laboratory, Glasgow; Dr. J. A. N. Emslie, P.H.L. Middlesbrough; Dr. E. H. Gillespie, P.H.L. Sheffield (chairman); Dr. R. R. Gillies, University of Edinburgh; Dr. J. V. T. Gostling, P.H.L. Portsmouth; Dr. J. H. Hale, P.H.L. Newcastle; Dr. R. J. Henderson, P.H.L. Worcester; Dr. P. G. Higgins, P.H.L. Epidemiological Research Unit, Cirencester; Dr. H. H. Johnston, P.H.L. Oxford; Dr. L. A. Little, P.H.L. Wakefield; Dr. N. S. Mair, P.H.L. Leicester; Dr. E. R. Mitchell, P.H.L. Nottingham; Dr. B. Moore, P.H.L. Exeter; Dr. D. J. H. Payne, P.H.L. Portsmouth; Dr. F. T. Perkins, M.R.C. HampsNad; Dr. Sheila Polakoff, Epidemiological Research P.H.L. Colindale; Dr. T. M. Pollock, Epidemiological Research, P.H.L. Colindale; Dr. Pauline M. Poole, P.H.L. Chester; Dr. N. W. Preston, University of Manchester; Dr. H. G. M. Smith, P.H.L. Bradford; Dr. A. F. B. Standfast, Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine; Dr. I. O. Stewart, P.H.L. Coventry; Dr. I. Taylor, D.O.H.A.S.S.; Dr. Mair Thomas, P.H.L., Edmonton; Professor Scott Thompson, P.H.L. Cardiff; Dr. G. C. Turner, P.H.L. Liverpool; Dr. J. F. Warin, M.O.H. City of Oxford; Dr. J. E. M. Whitehead, P.H.L. Coventry; Dr. A. M. M. Wilson, University of Edinburgh; Dr. P. J. Wormald, P.H.L. Salisbury; Dr. A. E. Wright, P.H.L. Gloucester.

    Dr. E. C. Armstrong, Dr. D. M. Green, and Dr. W. J. Ryan acted as deputies for Dr. G. C. Turner, Professor J. P. Duguid, and Dr. B. Moore respectively.