Despite pertussis vaccine being available since the 1940s and immunisation programs using combined diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine since the mid-1950s, pertussis has been the most commonly notified vaccine preventable disease in Australia over the past 20 years. Pertussis notification and hospitalisation data have been available nationally since 1993, and provide different perspectives for understanding epidemiological trends. This report follows on from a previous review of Australian pertussis epidemiology from 1995-2005 and summarises routinely collected notification, hospitalisation and mortality data for 2006-2012. During the latter 7-year period, which incorporated epidemics in all jurisdictions, and in which acellular vaccines (as opposed to whole cell vaccines) were used exclusively, the average annual notification rate was more than 2.8 times that of the previous decade. In contrast, hospitalisation and mortality rates remained similar. The pattern of age-specific notification rates changed substantially, with cases aged 15 years or over representing 93% of total cases in 2006, but only 58% by 2012; the steepest increases were seen in children 2-4 and 6-9 years of age. In South Australia, where acellular vaccines were introduced into the primary schedule 2 years earlier than in other jurisdictions except the Northern Territory, a peak in notifications among those aged 5-9 and 10-12 years was observed earlier. Likely contributors to both the overall increase in notifications and changes in age distribution include increased diagnostic testing and more rapid waning of effectiveness following vaccination with acellular compared with whole cell vaccines, exacerbated by cessation of the 18-month dose in the National Immunisation Program from 2003.
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Journal:Commun Dis Intell Q Rep. 2014