A vaccine to protect adults and adolescents against illness due to Bordetella pertussis infection — or whooping cough — has proved more than 90 percent effective in a national, large-scale clinical study, according to research results published in this week’s issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. The vaccine, researchers say, could be used to stem the increase in pertussis cases among adults and adolescents in the United States and thereby prevent the prolonged cough illness, which can result in hospitalization, pneumonia and cracked ribs in those populations. An important additional benefit of the vaccine may be to decrease transmission of the B. pertussis bacterium to infants, who are particularly vulnerable to severe illness, complications and death resulting from whooping cough. The illness annually affects 50 million people worldwide.
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