The PRIME study - Protective Vaccine Responses in Infants after Maternal Pertussis Vaccination, is investigating whether whooping cough vaccination during pregnancy affects the baby’s immune response to future infant and toddler vaccinations. The study will also investigate how long the mothers’ immunity to whooping cough lasts after vaccination in pregnancy.
In Australia, the pertussis vaccination is recommended during every pregnancy to protect vulnerable young babies from severe whooping cough infection. The information gained from this study will help to guide development of vaccines and provide information for immunisation programs during pregnancy and childhood.
Recruitment began in September 2017 with support from St John of God Subiaco and Murdoch Hospitals. Pregnant mothers and new mothers are being approached to volunteer to participate in the study with their babies. The Vaccine Trials Group aims to recruit 200 mothers and their babies, with another 200 to be recruited by researchers in NSW. Healthy mothers aged 18 to 45 years and their babies (born from 37 weeks of pregnancy) are invited to participate, whether or not the whooping cough vaccine was received during pregnancy. If you are interested in being involved, please contact the Vaccine Trials Group via firstname.lastname@example.org or 0400 450 240.
Pertussis Health Care Worker Study
Despite long-term, high pertussis vaccine coverage, Australia has the highest recorded all-age incidence of pertussis disease in the world. Babies receive their first pertussis vaccine at 2 months of age. Before this, they are potentially more vulnerable to contracting the disease. Adults over 20 years of age are responsible for 55 per cent of disease and are a potential source of transmission to these young, unvaccinated babies. A booster has been introduced for adolescents, yet little is known about pertussis immunity in adults or how fast immunity wanes.
The current recommendations for health care workers is to have a booster vaccine every 10 years. But is this recommendation valid? To find out more, 150 healthy adults aged 23 – 64 working in the health care profession volunteered to be part of this study. The participants received the Boostrix vaccine (Diptheria, Tetanus and Pertussis) and antibody levels to pertussis were analysed at clinic visits throughout a 12-month period. The final study visits are due to be completed early in February 2018 and the eagerly awaited results will be some time after this.
A huge thank you to the health care workers who have given up their time to take part. Without them, and others like them, we cannot continue to improve the health and well-being, through research, of our children and communities.
OPTIMUM is an exciting new study exploring the use of two different versions of the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine in the hopes of protecting kids against food allergies and eczema.
All babies are recommended to receive a whooping cough vaccine at 6 – 8 weeks, and then again at 4 and 6 months. In Australia, we currently use the ‘acellular’ pertussis vaccine, while most whooping cough vaccines given around the world are called the ‘whole-cell’ type.
The study aims to understand if using the ‘whole-cell’ vaccine for the first pertussis vaccination at 6 – 8 weeks could help train the immune system to produce a range of antibodies, potentially protecting babies from developing allergies in early childhood.
Currently about 1 in every 10 Australian babies have a food allergy at age 12 months and about 3 in every 10 will have allergic eczema. For most children, there is no reliable way to prevent allergy, and there is no treatment to cure it. Vaccines work by training the immune system to recognise what certain germs look like. We think some vaccines might also help prevent allergy by training the immune system to recognise the difference between germs that are harmful and things that are not harmful, like food. We hope that by training the immune system in this way we will stop it mistakenly mounting allergic responses to harmless substances.
In the OPTIMUM study, half of the babies will receive the whole cell vaccine and the other half will receive the acellular vaccine. All babies will be followed up until they are around 19 months old to try to find out if babies who received the whole cell vaccine are less likely to develop allergic conditions - food allergy or eczema.
Stage 1 of the study will involve 150 healthy WA babies starting at 6 – 12 weeks of age, progressing to 2000 babies in stage 2.
We look forward to starting this new research soon. If you are currently pregnant and interested in being involved or hearing more about the OPTIMUM study, then please email us at OPTIMUM@telethonkids.org.au