THURSDAY, Feb. 27, 2020 (HealthDay News) — The incidence rates of tetanus and diphtheria are not significantly lower in countries that routinely vaccinate adults for these diseases, according to a study published online Feb. 25 in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Ariel M. Slifka, from Oregon Health & Science University in Beaverton, and colleagues conducted an observational cohort study using World Health Organization case reports from 2001 to 2016. The incidence of tetanus and diphtheria was compared in 31 North American and European countries that do and do not recommend booster vaccination for adults.

The researchers observed no significant decrease in the incidence rates of tetanus in countries that vaccinate adults every five to 20 years compared with countries that do not routinely vaccinate adults (P = 0.52; risk ratio, 0.78; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.36 to 1.70). Among countries that vaccinate adults, the risk for contracting diphtheria was increased due to the inclusion of Latvia, a country with poor vaccination coverage (P < 0.001). No difference in diphtheria incidence was seen between countries that do and do not routinely vaccinate adults when Latvia was excluded (P = 0.26; risk ratio, 2.46; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.54 to 11.23).

“Implementation of the WHO guidelines on adult tetanus and diphtheria vaccination would reduce the number of vaccine-associated adverse events and allow countries that are successful in implementing their childhood immunization schedules to focus financial resources on vulnerable populations,” the authors write.

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