Cyclic epidemics of pertussis (whooping cough) have been observed globally over the past twenty years despite high infant vaccine coverage. The resurgence of pertussis in high-income countries is partly due to waning vaccine immunity in older children and adults, as well as better surveillance and diagnostics. Moreover, in adolescents and adults, pertussis symptoms are mild and similar to common cough syndromes, meaning that it is under-diagnosed in older populations. A systematic search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, and BIOSIS was undertaken to identify studies published between 1 January 1990 and 17 June 2019, with information on pertussis epidemiology, burden of illness, and mortality in school-aged children, adolescents, and adults in Asia. Studies identified for inclusion were reviewed narratively because a statistical comparison was not possible due to the mix of methodologies used. The results showed that in East Asia, including Japan, South Korea, China, and Taiwan, pertussis is circulating in older children and adults. Diphtheria–tetanus–pertussis (DTP4) coverage is high in East Asia, yet outbreaks observed in Japan and South Korea suggest that vaccine-acquired immunity had waned in adolescents and adults. Several school outbreaks in China show that pertussis is circulating in young children, with continued circulation in adolescents and adults. There was a lack of information from Southeast/South Asian countries, although pan-Asian serosurveys showed that recent pertussis infection was common in adolescents and in adults with persistent cough. To conclude, the circulation of pertussis in Asian countries with high DTP4 coverage supports the expansion of routine vaccination to include booster doses for children at school entry and adolescents. However, surveillance is weak or absent in many countries, meaning that the true burden of pertussis, particularly among older populations, is unknown.

  • Western Pacific
  • All age groups
  • Coverage
  • Pertussis