In the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers in Queensland, Australia, looked at 58,000 children who either received series of shots with the old vaccine, a full series of the current vaccine, or a combination of both between 1999 and 2011. One-hundred twenty-three children who received the series of the current vaccine developed whooping cough compared with only 90 children who received the full series of the old vaccine. Those who received the combination of doses seemed to have the highest protection, the study found.
"The challenge for future pertussis vaccine development is to address the benefit-risk, trade-off highlighted by our study, and to develop vaccines that induce long-lasting protection from the first dose, without the adverse events associated with DTwP [old vaccine] use," the authors wrote.
Even with the study findings, some experts aren't convinced that a revival of the old vaccine or a new combination vaccine might be a better alternative.
"There are benefits and risks and you have to balance the two," said Foster, who cited weighing the risks between adverse events of the old vaccine against the waning immunity of the current.
Vaccines requiring a booster shot are no less effective than other kinds of vaccines, Foster said.
"The current vaccine is still effective and people need to make sure children are up to date in the series of vaccines and teens, adults, and pregnant women get the pertussis vaccine," he said. "Vaccination remains the best way to prevent pertussis."
ABC News' Lisa Stark contributed to this report