Even with immunisation programmes, pertussis remains a significant cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Infants are especially vulnerable to this highly contagious bacterial infection due to the immaturity of their immune and respiratory systems.
Pertussis epidemics occur every 3 to 5 years in most high income countries, including New Zealand (NZ). During the previous epidemic in NZ from 2011-2013, six infants under the age of 2 months died and hundreds were hospitalised. A national pertussis outbreak is ongoing as of October 2018. From the official start of the outbreak period on the 16 October 2017 to the end of December 2018, 3,944 pertussis cases were notified, 308 were aged less than 1 year and approximately half of these infants were hospitalised (section 2.1).(1, 2)
In this review, the most recent literature published during January 2016 to September 2018 is presented to answer key questions relevant to better pertussis control and the best options for the National Immunisation Schedule (the Schedule). This is not a systematic review, not all aspects of pertussis immunisation have been reviewed, and cost-benefit is not considered.