Pertussis (whooping cough)

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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. 

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.

About pertussis

  • 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.
Date last updated: 
Tuesday, Apr 07, 2020
Date last reviewed: 
Monday, Apr 06, 2020