Association of Diphtheria-Tetanus-Acellular Pertussis Vaccine Timeliness and Number of Doses With Age-Specific Pertussis Risk in Infants and Young Children.


To examine the association between number and timeliness of vaccine doses and age-specific pertussis risk.

In most countries, the diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine is administered as a 3-dose infant series followed by additional booster doses in the first 5 years of life. Short-term immunity from the DTaP vaccine can depend on the number, timing, and interval between doses. Not receiving doses in a timely manner might be associated with a higher pertussis risk.

Being undervaccinated (receiving fewer than recommended doses at a given age) or delayed vaccination (not receiving doses within time frames recommended by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Suspected, probable, and confirmed pertussis diagnosis.

A total of 316 404 children (median age, 65.2 months [interquartile range, 35.3-94.1 months]; 162 025 boys [51.2%]) as of December 31, 2017, with 17.4 million person-months of follow-up were included in the analysis. A total of 19 943 children (6.3%) had no vaccines recorded in the Immunization Information System, 116 193 (36.7%) received a vaccine with a delay, and 180 268 (56.9%) were fully vaccinated with no delay. Delayed vaccination and undervaccination rates were higher for older children (17.6% delayed or undervaccinated at age 2 months for dose 1 at 3 months vs 41.6% at age 5 years for dose 5) but improved for successive birth cohorts (52.2% for 2008 birth cohort vs 32.3% for 2017 birth cohort). Undervaccination was significantly associated with higher risk of pertussis for the 3-dose primary series (adjusted relative risk [aRR], 4.8; 95% CI, 3.1-7.6), the first booster (aRR, 3.2; 95% CI, 2.3-4.5), and the second booster (aRR, 4.6; 95% CI, 2.6-8.2). However, delay in vaccination among children who received the recommended number of vaccine doses was not associated with pertussis risk.

The results of this cohort study suggest that undervaccination is associated with higher pertussis risk. Short delays in vaccine receipt may be less important if the age-appropriate number of doses is administered, but delaying doses is not recommended. Ensuring that children receive all doses of pertussis vaccine, even if there is some delay, is important.

This population-based, retrospective cohort study used Washington State Immunization Information System data and pertussis surveillance data from Public Health Seattle and King County, Washington. Included participants were children aged 3 months to 9 years born or living in King County, Washington, between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2017. Data were analyzed from June 30 to December 1, 2019.

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