Does my mother, who is over 65 and immunization history...

Question: 

Does my mother, who is over 65 and immunization history unknown, qualify for a free pertussis vaccine? Our local health unit in BC said no but according to your website she should.

Answer: 

It is recommended that all adults receive one dose of the tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap) vaccine if they have not previously received pertussis-containing vaccines in adulthood. In particular, adults who have not previously received pertussis-containing vaccines in adulthood, and who anticipate having regular contact with an infant, should receive a dose of the Tdap vaccine, ideally administered at least 2 weeks before contact with the infant.  Ensuring your pertussis vaccination is up-to-date can provide indirect protection to infants.

However, due to the current incidence of pertussis activity in BC, an adult dose of the Tdap vaccine is not provided for free to adults who were immunized in childhood.  Those not eligible for the free vaccine can purchase the vaccine at most pharmacies and travel clinics.  A dose of the Tdap vaccine is however provided for free to adults who have never been immunized against pertussis, or whose immunization history is unknown (adults lacking adequate documentation of immunization are considered unimmunized). Those eligible for the free vaccine can get vaccinated at their local public health unit or pharmacy.  Some family doctors also provide immunizations. 

Protection from pertussis vaccines decreases over time, so it's important to get a booster dose.  We recommend that you discuss getting vaccinated further with your public health nurse, doctor or pharmacist who can make a recommendation for you. 

For more information about the Tdap vaccine, see the HealthLinkBC File: Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Tdap) Vaccine

Immunization Nurse