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Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Vaccination

Pronounced (per-TUS-iss)

At a Glance

Pertussis vaccination

Whooping cough — known medically as pertussis — is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. Although it initially resembles an ordinary cold, whooping cough may eventually turn more serious, particularly in infants. The best way to prevent it is through vaccinations. The childhood vaccine is called DTaP. The whooping cough booster vaccine for adolescents and adults is called Tdap. Both DTaP and Tdap protect against whooping cough, tetanus, and diphtheria.

 

What You Should Know

About the Disease

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Vaccine Information

Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis Vaccines

There are several formulations of vaccines used to prevent diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. Some are combined with vaccines to prevent other diseases and reduce the total number of shots that someone receives at one office visit. In the U.S., DTaP, Tdap, and Td vaccines are most commonly used. One of these (DTaP) is given to children younger than 7 years of age, and two (Tdap and Td) are given to older children and adults.

Children should get 5 doses of DTaP, one dose at each of the following ages: 2, 4, 6, and 15 through 18 months and 4 through 6 years.

Td is a tetanus-diphtheria vaccine given to adolescents and adults as a booster shot every 10 years, or after an exposure to tetanus under some circumstances. Tdap is similar to Td but also containing protection against pertussis. Adolescents 11 through 18 years of age (preferably at age 11-12 years) should receive a single dose of Tdap. One dose of Tdap is also recommended for adults 19 years of age and older who did not get Tdap as an adolescent. Expectant mothers should receive Tdap during each pregnancy, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks. Tdap should also be given to 7-10 year olds who are not fully immunized against pertussis. Tdap can be given no matter when Td was last received. Updated Aug 2013

(Upper-case letters in these abbreviations denote full-strength doses of diphtheria (D) and tetanus (T) toxoids and pertussis (P) vaccine. Lower-case “d” and “p” denote reduced doses of diphtheria and pertussis used in the adolescent/adult-formulations. The “a” in DTaP and Tdap stands for “acellular,” meaning that the pertussis component contains only a part of the pertussis organism.)

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Beliefs & Concerns

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Vaccine Safety

As with all vaccines, there can be minor reactions, including pain and redness at the injection site, headache, fatigue or a vague feeling of discomfort.

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Who Should Not be Vaccinated?

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For Health Professionals

Clinical Information on Pertussis

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Vaccine Recommendations

Health officials now recommend that adults and adolescents receive one dose of the Tdap booster vaccine to protect against whooping cough. It is especially important that those in contact with infants younger than 12 months of age are up-to-date with pertussis vaccinations. The Tdap booster is recommended in place of one dose of the Td (tetanus-diphtheria) booster.

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References and Resources

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Provider Education

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Materials for Patients

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