Long-term Effectiveness of Whooping Cough Vaccines
Whooping cough vaccines are effective, but do not last as long as we would like; however, they are still the best way to protect against whooping cough and its complications. Getting whooping cough or a whooping cough vaccine (as a child or an adult) does not protect you for a lifetime.
In the first year after getting vaccinated, whooping cough vaccines for adolescents and adults (called Tdap) protect about 7 out of 10 people who receive them. There is a decrease in effectiveness in each following year. About 3 or 4 out of 10 people are fully protected 4 years after getting Tdap.
In general, Tdap vaccination protects 7 out of 10 people who receive it, but protection fades over time. About 3 or 4 out of 10 people are fully protected 4 years after getting Tdap.
In general, DTaP vaccination is effective for up to 8 or 9 out of 10 children who receive it, but protection fades over time. About 7 out of 10 children are fully protected 5 years after getting their last dose of DTaP.
In general, childhood whooping cough vaccines (called DTaP) are effective for 8 or 9 out of 10 children who receive them. Among children who get all 5 doses of DTaP vaccine on schedule, effectiveness is very high within the year following the 5th dose — nearly all children (98 out of 100) are fully protected. There is a modest decrease in effectiveness in each following year. About 7 out of 10 of children are fully protected 5 years after getting their last dose of DTaP vaccine and the other 3 are protected against serious disease.
Recent studies have shown that those who are vaccinated (with either DTaP or Tdap) and still get whooping cough are much more likely to have a mild illness compared to those who never received the vaccine. This means that if you get a whooping cough vaccine and still get whooping cough, you will have fewer coughing fits, shorter illness, and be less likely to suffer from disease complications. By getting the vaccine during pregnancy, you will also transfer antibodies (proteins produced by the body to fight off diseases) to your baby. Even if your baby gets whooping cough, these antibodies can help protect her against the severe outcomes that come along with the disease. However, for women vaccinated during pregnancy, CDC does not know how much protection will be passed on to babies in the United States or how long that protection will last. Some studies have shown that the antibodies will last until your baby can start getting her own vaccines. That is why it is critical that your baby starts getting the whooping cough vaccine for children on time at 2 months old.
- Page last reviewed: January 27, 2015
- Page last updated: January 8, 2016
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