Pertussis (whooping cough)
What is the pertussis vaccine?
The pertussis vaccine protects against pertussis (also known as whooping cough), a serious infection of the airways caused by pertussis bacteria.
The pertussis vaccine is combined with other vaccines so that you or your child can get protection against several diseases with fewer shots.
Who should get the pertussis vaccine?
The pertussis vaccine is recommended for infants, young children, school-age children, and adults. It is recommended that all pregnant women get a pertussis vaccine in every pregnancy. There are many different combination vaccines used to prevent pertussis.
- The Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hepatitis B, Polio, and Haemophilus influenzae type b (DTaP-HB-IPV-Hib) Vaccine is given as a series of 3 doses to infants at 2, 4, and 6 months of age.
- The Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b (DTaP-IPV-Hib) Vaccine is given to infants as a booster dose at 18 months of age after completing a three-dose primary series of DTaP-HB-IPV-Hib.
- The Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Polio (Tdap-IPV) Vaccine is given as one dose to children 4-6 years of age. This is a booster dose for children who were immunized against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and polio at a younger age. The booster dose strengthens or boosts the immune system to give better protection against these diseases.
The Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Tdap) Vaccine is offered to all students in Grade 9. This is a booster dose for children immunized against these diseases at a younger age.
- The Tdap vaccine can also be given to children 7 years of age and older who have not been fully immunized, and to adults or immigrants who have not been immunized or whose immunization history is unknown.
- People born in 1989 or later who missed their adolescent dose of Tdap are eligible for one free dose of this vaccine.
- A booster dose of the Tdap vaccine is recommended for adults who were immunized in childhood but is not provided for free in B.C.
- Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that all pregnant women get the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine in every pregnancy to help protect the baby after birth. Learn more about the Tdap vaccine and pregnancy in our pregnancy section.
What are the benefits of getting the pertussis vaccine?
The vaccine is the best way to protect against pertussis, a serious and sometimes fatal disease. When you or your child get vaccinated, you help protect others as well.
Where can I learn more?
Click on the vaccine name to access the HealthLinkBC file for more information about the vaccine, including possible reactions and who should not get the vaccine.
- Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a serious infection of the airways caused by pertussis bacteria.
- The bacteria are easily spread by coughing, sneezing, or close face-to-face contact.
- Pertussis starts like a common cold with symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, mild fever, and a mild cough. Over the next two weeks, the cough gets worse, leading to severe, repeated, and forceful coughing spells that often end with a whooping sound before the next breath.
- The cough of pertussis can last several months and occurs more often at night.
- The cough can make a person gag or spit out mucus and make it hard to take a breath.
- In babies, pertussis can cause periods of apnea in which their breathing is interrupted.
- Pertussis can cause pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, or death. These complications are seen most often in infants.
About 1 in 170 infants who get pertussis may die.